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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Economics of Annual Cropping Versus Crop-Fallow in the Northern Great Plains As Influenced by Tillage and Nitrogen.

Authors
item Devuyst, Eric - NDSU, FARGO, ND
item Halvorson, Ardell

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 16, 2003
Publication Date: March 14, 2004
Citation: Devuyst, E.A., Halvorson, A.D. 2004. Economics of annual cropping versus crop-fallow in the northern great plains as influenced by tillage and nitrogen.Agronomy Journal. 96:148-153.

Interpretive Summary: More intensive dryland cropping (IC) systems tend to have higher annual yields than those of spring wheat-fallow (SW-F) in the northern Great Plains. An economic comparison of the two cropping systems would help producers evaluate the benefits of adopting more intensive cropping systems. We evaluated the long-term (12 yr) effects of tillage system and N fertilization on the economic returns from two dryland cropping systems in North Dakota. An IC rotation (spring wheat-winter wheat-sunflower) and a SW-F rotation were compared. Tillage systems included conventional-till (CT), minimum-till (MT), and no-till (NT). Nitrogen rates were 34, 67, and 101 kg N/ha for the IC system and 0, 22, and 45 kg N/ha for the SW-F system. The IC system generated higher profits than the SW-F system, but the IC profits were more variable. Within the IC system, MT generated higher profits ($106, $122, and $129/ha for 34, 67, and 101 kg N/ha treatments, respectively) than corresponding N-treatments under CT ($87, $98, and $104/ha) and NT ($79, $103, and $127/ha), but MT profits were more variable. Increased N level generally increased profits. This economic analysis shows that the annual profitability of the dryland IC system with MT ($129/ha)and NT ($127/ha were more profitable than the best SW-F system ($58/ha) using CT. Analysis of the probability of negative returns to management revealed IC system was less likely to have negative returns than SW-F system and that SW-F may be economically infeasible.

Technical Abstract: Annual yields with more intensive cropping (IC) systems tend to be greater than those of spring wheat-fallow (SW-F), however, little economic comparison information is available. The long-term (12 yr) effects of tillage system and N fertilization on the economic returns from two dryland cropping systems in North Dakota were evaluated. An IC rotation [spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.)] and a SW-F rotation were studied. Tillage systems included conventional-till (CT), minimum-till (MT), and no-till (NT). Nitrogen rates were 34, 67, and 101 kg N/ha for the IC system and 0, 22, and 45 kg N/ha for the SW-F system. The IC system generated higher profits than the SW-F system, but the IC profits were more variable. Within the IC system, MT generated higher profits ($106, $122, and $129/ha for 34, 67, and 101 kg N/ha treatments, respectively) than corresponding N-treatments under CT ($87, $98, and $104/ha) and NT ($79, $103, and $127/ha), but MT profits were more variable. Increased N generally increased profits. This economic analysis shows that the annual profitability of the dryland IC system with MT ($129/ha) and NT ($127/ha) were more profitable than the best SW-F system ($58/ha) using CT. Analysis of the probability of negative returns to management revealed IC system was less likely to have negative returns than SW-F system and that SW-F may be economically infeasible.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014