The overall goal of the Soils Program at Hays is to identify and develop management practices which protect soil, water, and air resources while sustaining agronomic production and maintaining environmental quality. To achieve this goal, the Program strongly relies on basic and applied research principles. The program approach is based on the concept of multi-functionality in which soils are managed to provide a number of ecosystem services, including: 1) conserve and store water, 2) meet the increasing demands for food and fiber production, 3) filter and purify air and water, 4) store urban and industrial wastes, 5) sequester carbon (C) to offset the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, and NO2) that contribute to projected global climate change, and 6) sustain wildlife habitat.
The Program specifically deals with soil management with an emphasis on applied soil physics. Basic and applied research in soil physics is being conducted for a better understanding of soil-water-plant relationships under different scenarios of tillage, crop, and residue management systems. Specific areas of research work involve soil hydrology, structure, compaction, water and wind erosion, and soil C dynamics in relation to crop production and ecosystem functions.