Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Better soil for birds


June 2013 - May 2016


The primary outcome objective is to provide landowners enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Nebraska’s Niobrara Valley with a better understanding of how four, major mid-contract management activities impact key attributes of soil health.

As landowners and managers are faced with the arduous task of weighing the various economic and ecological tradeoffs of different mid-contract management strategies, soil health is often overlooked with potentially detrimental consequences for the long-term value and resilience of their land. This is especially important as landowners are faced with the option to re-enroll in CRP, with uncertain climatic and economic futures looming on the horizon. We believe that our work will render CRP lands more valuable and resilient over the long-term for private landowners by incorporating soil ecological knowledge into more recent management objectives that often focus exclusively on promoting short-term upland bird habitat.

More specifically, our research objectives include:
1. Tracking and establishing a set of measurable soil health attributes as identified by private landowners, and how they are differentially impacted by the four major mid-contract management strategies; and
2. Providing applicable, relevant information to private landowners, land managers and USDA NRCS personnel in an effort to promote smarter, adaptive management decisions that balance short- and long-term objectives to meet CRP contract requirements and landowner-desired outcomes alike.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 670

Scientific Publications: 1897

Presentations: 4193



  • Craig AllenPrincipal Investigator
  • Hannah BirgeStudent

Funding Agencies

  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey