Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 20, 2002
Publication Date: August 15, 2003
Citation: Anderson, R.L., Tanaka, D.L., Merrill, S.D. 2003. Yield and water use of broadleaf crops in a semiarid climate. Agricultural Water Management. Interpretive Summary: Producers are changing their crop rotations in the Northern Great Plains because of no-till and minimum-till systems. To aid in managing pests and nitrogen fertility, producers are seeking broadleaf crops, both legume and oilseeds, that can be rotated with the cereal grains, wheat or barley. We tested seven broadleaf crops for adaptability to our semiarid climate. Dry ypea, sunflower, and dry bean were the most favorable crops based on water conversion into grain. Broadleaf crops will enable producers to improve grain yield of cereals as well as aid management of pests. A key component of successful semiarid rotations will be the sequencing of crops; mixing broadleaf and grass crops in a cycle-of-four rotation will accrue multiple benefits for producers in devising alternative rotations. The legumes, dry pea and dry bean, by supplying nitrogen to the soil, will help producers to reduce input costs related to fertility management.
Technical Abstract: The predominate crops grown in the northern Great Plains of the United States are cereal grains, which are well-adapted to the region's semiarid climate and short growing season. However, rotations are changing because minimum- and no-till production systems improve precipitation-use- efficiency. Therefore, producers are seeking diversity in crop choices to improve the design of their rotations. Our objective with this study was t examine water relations and agronomic performance of seven broadleaf crops in a semiarid climate. Dry pea (Pisum sativum L.), dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) were the most favorable for this region considering grain yield, water-use-efficiency, and gross economic return. Soybean (Glycine max L.), crambe (Crambe abyssinica Hochst), canola (Brassica rapa L.), and safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) were less successful. Water use for grain production ranged from 23 cm to 37 cm among crops whereas water-use-efficiency varied threefold. Economic return for grain production per cm of water use also varied threefold among crops. Integrating oilseed and legume crops with cereal grains in a cycle- of-four rotation will aid producers in managing diseases and weeds, as well as improve grain yield due to the rotation effect.