Systems for Monitoring and Analytics for Renewable Transportation Fuels from Agricultural Resources and Management

Capturing Spatio-temporal and Managerial Variations for Gold Standard Data and Platform for Validating Field-level Emission from Bioenergy Crops

The SMARTFARM project, funded by the DoE (Department of Energy) agency ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy), collects gold-standard data on the agroecosystem fluxes and their spatiotemporal variations for future research and policy making for the sustainability of bioenergy feedstock production systems. Ground-truth data refers to the direct in-field measurements, and they are the crucial basis for useful prediction, estimation, and monitoring tools like remote-sensing and modeling that inform various users including stakeholders, researchers, and policymakers. Collecting ground-truth data, however, is labor and resource intensive feat, so that such data on the agroecosystem fluxes come from scattered collection efforts that are often limited in spatiotemporal scales and resolutions. SMARTFARM thus takes a comprehensive approach to collecting gold-standard ground-truth data on the properties of soil, water, crop, and greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes within typical Midwestern first-generation bioenergy feedstock production systems (corn and soybean).

For the SMARTFARM project, the Lee Lab is in charge of collecting spatially high resolution and scale data, including soil properties, water quality, soil GHG fluxes, and crop properties and yield. In three commercial corn and soybean production fields located in central Illinois, we have collected the most spatially rigorous environmental and agronomic data for the past three years. The SMARTFARM project seeks to also develop a platform to publicly release our high resolution data to the general public. As of now, our gold-standard data have shown that unpredictable, spatially heterogeneous management effect is a significant driver of soil GHG flux spatial pattern, and that conventional tillage may greatly increase the potent GHG N2O from the soil.

Gasmet Measurement Equipment

Gas Measurement

The portable FTIR gas analyzers, DX4015 and GT5000 Terra from Gasmet Technologies, are used for soil greenhouse gas flux measurements. We are primarily interested in monitoring CO2 and N2O emissions.

We focus on analyzing CO2 and N2O emissions, which are important greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. These analyzers are particularly useful for assessing the impact of agricultural practices on greenhouse gas production, aiding in climate change mitigation efforts.

Water Leaching

Water Leaching

We monitor nutrient losses from various agricultural production systems using MacroRhizons soil moisture samplers.

The samplers are placed at a depth of 2-4 ft., and we collect leachates using evacuated syringes after rainfall events during the growing season.

Our Data

The spatiotemporal patterns of soil N2O fluxes in the conventionally tilled site. The early season N2O flux peaks following N fertilization mainly determined whether a point is a N2O hotspot.
The spatial patterns of soil CO2 and N2O fluxes at each site, each year. The Villa Grove site, under conventional tillage and continuous corn, has greater soil GHG fluxes than the other sites under reduced- or no-till.
The timeseries of cumulative soil N2O flux in three sites in 2022, averaged across all data collection points. The conventionally managed site in yellow had significantly greater N2O fluxes.
The Villa Grove site after planting
Bondville site gas measurement after planting
A field shot of soybean
A field shot of corn

SMARTFARM Project Members

Jinwook (JK) Kim

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Marissa Chavez

Farm Technician

Previous SMARTFARM Project Members

Nakian (Nak Hyun) Kim

Former Postdoctoral Research Associate

Mary Marsh

Farm Technician