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Chris Reberg-Horton

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

Resilient Agricultural Systems Platform Director, Professor

NC State Extension

3322 Plant Sciences Building

Bio

Dr. Reberg-Horton grew up in Fairview, North Carolina, a small mountain community. He earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Reberg-Horton earned his M.S. from the University of California, Davis, where he worked on crop modeling in the Department of Agronomy. After working with Cooperative Extension in California and North Carolina, Dr. Reberg-Horton returned to graduate school at NC State under Dr. Nancy Creamer. Dr. Reberg-Horton’s thesis topic looked into the possibility of developing cereal rye to be more allelopathic to improve weed control from this common cover crop. Following graduation, he took a position with the University of Maine as an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, where he worked with dairy farmers on grain and forage production.

Currently, Chris co-leads the Precision Sustainable Agriculture network consisting of on-farm and on-station experiments that utilize the latest developments in sensors, IoT platforms, and Machine Learning to collect and standardize field data from a wide range of agricultural environments. The network operates in 25 states and has more than 120 locations each year. Chris also serves as the Platform Director for Resilient Agricultural Systems at the Plant Sciences Initiative at NC State University.  As such, he supports teams addressing climate change, food security, and the use of new technologies for adaptive management of farms.

Extension Publications

 

CV

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Publications

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Grants

Date: 09/27/22 - 7/31/27
Amount: $125,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS)

NRCS has an interagency collaboration with ARS to develop national decision support tools with the regional cover crop councils. The SCCC will initiate an collaborative agreement with NRCS to receive funds for train-the-trainer activities regarding these tools. Furthermore, new funds will be used to enhance regional outreach and extension activities in the SCCC as well as expand content and functionality of the SCCC website. Collectively, this work will train agricultural professionals and provide technical assistance to growers on cover crop management.

Date: 08/25/21 - 8/24/26
Amount: $709,826.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

The herbicide-resistant weeds epidemic is limiting U.S. chemical weed control options and increasing crop yield losses. U.S. Field crop producers need new precision technologies and nonchemical control practices to provide long-term herbicide resistant weed management. The overall goal of this project is to develop and regionally adapt precision Integrated Weed management systems for corn, soybean, and cotton producers.

Date: 04/08/21 - 3/07/26
Amount: $2,003,778.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS)

Row crop farmers, who represent the majority of agricultural acreage in the US, have largely implemented only one of the four soil health management principles in the form of conservation tillage, which minimizes soil disturbance. While this change was of great benefit to soil conservation, the move to conservation tillage took a long time. Given the challenges facing modern agriculture, we do not have the luxury of such a timeline for the broad adoption of the other three principles (i.e. maximize soil cover, biodiversity, and presence of living roots). All of these remaining principles can be implemented through broadscale adoption of cover crops. However, we have struggled to support “middle adopters” in the implementation of cover crops, or better still, the implementation of cover crops combined with conservation tillage. The combination of cover crops plus conservation tillage has been identified as one of the single best ways to improve soil health. However, the inclusion of conservation tillage and cover crops greatly increases cropping system management complexity. Stakeholders have indicated a considerable need for site-specific recommendations that assist farmers in decision-making to reduce this burden. Our goal and novel approach is to enhance and expand an on-farm research network of unprecedented geographic range and scale by uniting the Precision Sustainable Agriculture network (PSA; public sector) with the Indigo Ag. (private) network to implement field trials/demos and allow for the parameterization, calibration, and validation of decision tools. PSA tools provide farmer support on cover crop economics, N management, and water dynamics that will promote the adoption of conservation tillage and cover crops. Collaboration with Dagan, Inc. in this project will enhance the geospatial assessments of cover crops and their potential impact on soil health and greenhouse gases (GHGs). Specific objectives include 1) scale up PSA on-farm monitoring network and demonstration sites to include farms throughout the North and South Central US to address critical cover crop knowledge gaps and regionalize decision support tools; 2) conduct environmental, economic, and social evaluations of CC use to mitigate barriers to adoption; 3) improve remote sensing algorithms that estimate CC performance to provide growers, modelers, and policy makers field-level spatial assessments; 4) link remote sensing data with a process-based biogeochemical model to document and evaluate greenhouse gas and soil carbon (C) dynamics that will inform ecosystem service marketplaces; and 5) provide field days and workshops on our DSTs to NRCS field staff, extension, and private consultants. Anticipated conservation benefits of increased conservation tillage and CC adoption include improved soil health and decreased impact of agriculture on the environment (e.g., less nutrient runoff). Anticipated economic benefits include decreased input costs (due to more efficient nutrient use) and improved yield (due to the resilience soil health imparts to cropping systems).

Date: 09/01/21 - 8/31/25
Amount: $508,721.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS)

The objectives of this cooperative agreement are to: 1. Perform experiments and analyses related to development of high-throughput methods focused on utilizing machine learning tools for integrating into breeding programs. 2. Organize research projects to expand research in this field corresponding to multiple cropping systems, including but not limited to: cotton, soybean, blueberry, peanut and turf. 3. Work on development of genomics based tools within commodity groups to set the stage for future genomic selection projects.

Date: 09/01/19 - 8/31/24
Amount: $9,994,404.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

Cover crops are capable of mitigating many of the destabilizing factors influencing food and water security including climate change, pesticide resistance, depleted soils, competition among users for water, and decoupled nutrient cycles. Despite the myriad potential landscape-level benefits, cover crop adoption rates remain low. Cover crop use is a knowledge-intensive activity; farmers repeatedly cite management complexity and the lack of site- and system-specific information as barriers to adoption. This is further complicated by inconsistent management recommendations, and at times misinformation, resulting from a lack of coordination, communication, and awareness. Complex interactions in food production among intrinsic factors (climate and soil), management, and genetics exacerbate the issue. Social and political forces also add complexity via regulation and market forces. While there has been considerable research devoted to cover crops, there has been a failure to link impacts of climate, soil, genetics, and management decisions on cover crop performance. There is also a lack of transdisciplinarity and integration in research, education, and extension activities. We propose a transformation of US cropping systems through an information ecology to integrate cover crops and precision agriculture. An information ecology for precision sustainable agriculture would include, at minimum, open source software to reduce the cognitive overload of cover crop use by farmers; low cost hardware to crowdsource farm-scale data to inform cover crop research; and a knowledge commons for data sharing among transdisciplinary and cross-sector teams. An information ecology therefore has the potential to support long-term sustainability of US agricultural systems through the integration of cover crop research and practice.


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