The Platte River – High Plains Aquifer (PR-HPA) is one of 18 established Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) networks across the US. PR-HPA is a partnership between the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the USDA-ARS Agroecosystem Management Research Unit (AMRU) in Lincoln, and the USDA-ARS Environmental Management Research Unit (EMRU) in Clay Center, NE. The PR-HPA network encompasses 27,750 ha of research sites with data going back to the early 1900s.
A partial list of on-going research projects include:
- Long-term manuring and continuous corn (Est. 1912)
- Dryland tillage plots (Est. 1970)
- Soil nutrients and tillage (Est. 1983)
- Biofuel feedstock studies (Est. 2001)
- Carbon sequestration study (Est. 2000)
Affiliated partners include the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) that develops measures to improve preparedness and adaptation to climate variability and drought; the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) that coordinates data acquisition from over 170 automated weather stations and around 50 automated soil moisture network across NE and beyond; the AMERIFLUX and NEBFLUX networks that coordinate the water vapor and carbon dioxide flux measurements across NE with emphasis on rainfed and irrigated crop lands; the ARS Greenhouse gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network (GRACEnet) and the Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP) project; and the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT) that assists with the use of geospatial technologies for agriculture and natural resource applications.
Current emphases are on addressing present-day and emerging issues related to profitability and sustainability of agroecosystems. PR-HPA LTAR conducts research pertaining to climate variability and change, water sustainability, and ecological and agronomic challenges associated with corn, soybeans, managed grasslands, bioenergy and beef production needed by society, while securing a high quality of life in rural and urban communities, as well as maintaining or improving ecosystem services including productivity, biodiversity, air, water, and soils.