1. Research
  2. Clusters

Low-Input Agriculture

The low-input agriculture cluster brings together Noble Research Institute researchers as well as external collaborators to discuss ongoing projects, funding opportunities, new ideas and strategies aimed at improving agricultural sustainability with a focus on plant nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and water use efficiencies.


The mission of the low input agriculture cluster is to conduct basic and applied research on forage legume and grass species to reduce resource inputs while maintaining productive and sustainable agricultural systems, especially for year-round grazing systems in the Southern Great Plains. Major resource inputs of producers into agricultural systems include N- and P-fertilizers, water, specialty agrochemicals (e.g., herbicides and fungicides), as well as cost for fuel, acquisition and maintenance of machinery, seed material and labor. Lowering these inputs would improve profitability and ecological sustainability of agricultural operations. For example, the use of synthetic fertilizers is needed to achieve high yields but also entails ecological problems such as eutrophication of water bodies. Crop and forage species with lower demand for fertilizers not only save agricultural producers money but also reduce such problems and thus contribute to sustainability in agriculture.

Associated Projects

  • Associative nitrogen fixation in grasses
  • Determine the influence of endophytes on drought tolerance
  • Determine the influence of microbes under N-limiting conditions
  • Functional analysis of genes with strongly P-status responsive transcript abundance in Arabidopsis thaliana, Medicago truncatula and Brachipodium distachyon
  • Identification and functional investigation of small signaling peptides in Medicago truncatula with an emphasis on macronutrient regulation of root and nodule development
  • Improving nitrogen use efficiency in forage grass species while maintaining yield and nutrient status
  • Improving phosphorus acquisition efficiency/phosphorus use efficiency in alfalfa and wheat using candidate genes and natural variation
  • Improving water use efficiency, drought tolerance and persistence of alfalfa
  • Manipulation of genes and transcription factors through VIGS
  • Nitrogen use efficiency in switchgrass: senescence/N-recycling
  • Symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes