Increasing environmental stewardship of dairy forage production systems with cover crops

PI: Francisco Arriaga


Arriaga is an assistant professor of soil science and soil extension specialist at UW–Madison. His research interests include tillage, soil compaction issues, crop residue management, cover crops, and water quality and quantity issues.

Graduate student: Walker Crane (pictured above) received a bachelor’s degree in plant and environmental soil science from Texas A&M University, where he developed a passion for soil health and sustainable cropping systems. As an undergraduate, he conducted research investigating the effect of cover crops and tillage on greenhouse gas emissions. He was also involved with research projects using low-field magnetic resonance imaging to phenotype sorghum roots and UAVs to implement precision irrigation scheduling. Crane is pursuing a master’s degree in soil science mentored by Francisco Arriaga from the Department of Soil Science.

Crane joins Arriaga’s team working to better understand the environmental impacts of corn silage production systems. Arriaga hypothesizes that the canopy structure and the amount of biomass produced by a cover crop influences environmental impacts. Additionally, biomass produced by a cover crop will be affected by its relative planting date and seeding rate. Understanding these relationships will help develop recommendations on establishment dates for fall-seeded cover crops. The overarching goal of this project is to help farmers make decisions that will benefit forage production and the environment.

Anita Thompson