Farm Press Editorial Staff
OUNCES PER GALLON, U.S. peanut farmers
grow the most water-efficient nut on the
market, but there is always room for improvement and for a better understanding of conservation and sustainability.
University of Georgia (UGA) researchers
annually conduct research at the Sunbelt Ag
Expo Darrell Williams Research Farm in Moultrie, Ga., but one project in 2019 will use its
large-scale plots to investigate and compare
peanut water efficiency and carbon storage in
conventional- and conservation-based tillage
The work is being led by Dr. Monique
Leclerc, a professor with the UGA College
of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Her Laboratory for Environmental Physics is
based on the UGA Griffin Campus. The peanut
research at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is in cooperation with Dr. Scott Monfort and Dr. Scott
Tubbs, both UGA agronomists based at the
UGA Tifton Campus.
In this Q&A with Southeast Farm Press,
Dr. Gengsheng Zhang, a senior scientist
with Leclerc’s lab, discusses the peanut
SEFP: Can you give a general overview of
the project taking place at the Sunbelt Ag
The goal of the present project is to optimize water resources conservation while
maximizing peanut production in southern
cropping systems. This study is a valuable tool
to tailor irrigation systems. Given the conflicting accounts on water-savings benefits of
conservation tillage, this project dispels existing controversy in the literature by accurately
determining water-use efficiency in two contrasting tillage practices.
SEFP: How is the research being conducted?
It does so thanks to a state-of-the-art tech-
nique called the eddy-covariance. This project
accurately quantifies the ability of both strip
tillage and conventional tillage in storing
water and carbon using rye cover-crop
residue. This project addresses the impact of
conservation tillage on water-use efficiency
( WUE), evapotranspiration (ET), and carbon
storage. A particular strength and uniqueness
of these measurements is that the experiment
is carried out at the field scale, continuously
day and night in contrast with earlier studies.
This method determines the amount of water
savings achieved together with the organic
carbon stored/released continuously through
photosynthesis/respiration simultaneously in
both tillage practices.
SEFP: How might it benefit farmers or the
industry in general?
The influence of conservation tillage in
peanut production on water-use efficiency
and water savings, and carbon sequestration
will be quantitatively and accurately determined in this project. With growing water
restrictions looming in agriculture, this study
demonstrates the sustainable side of a progressive peanut industry by:
■ Quantifying the degree to which conservation tillage reduces southern cropping
systems water loss (E T) to the atmosphere.
■ Demonstrating how implementing
of these sustainable practices can improve
water conservation and increase carbon
sequestration. One of the several positive
outcomes of such a study lies in its usefulness
in the planning and design/configuration of
Funding for the project comes from the
Southeastern Peanut Research Initiative and
National Peanut Board.
The peanut water efficiency and carbon
storage study, along with other on-farm
research, was presented at the Sunbelt Ag
Expo Field Day July 25.
Strip vs. Conventional: Understanding
peanut water use, carbon storage
FOCUS ON THE FARM
A University of Georgia research project at Sunbelt Ag Expo
in Moultrie, Ga., will investigate and compare peanut water
efficiency and carbon storage in conventional- and conservation-based tillage systems.