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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A PLANNING TOOL FOR INTEGRATING CROP CHOICES WITH WEED MANAGEMENT IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS

Author
item ANDERSON, RANDAL

Submitted to: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2003
Publication Date: March 1, 2004
Citation: Anderson, R.L. 2004. A planning tool for integrating crop choices with weed management in the northern great plains. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 19: 23-29.

Interpretive Summary: Producers in the Northern Great Plains are diversifying their crop rotations. In place of winter wheat-fallow, rotations now include crops such as corn, sunflower, or other summer annual crops. This diversity with crops provides producers with an opoprtunity to sequence crops such that weeds can be managed more readily. To help producers, we developed a planning tool that lists various choices with crops when designing a rotation; the choices are arranged by impact on weed dynamics as quantified by research in the region. The tool lists choices among crops, such as varying crops with different life cycles, planting dates, or row spacing, and choices within an individual crop, such as varying cultivar or planting date. Choices among crops impact weeds the most, whereas choices wtihin an individual crop are less effective and usually lead to lower crop yield. This planning tool was shared with producers of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society, who felt that it would encourage long-range planning as well as help integrate weed management with the design of cropping systems.

Technical Abstract: Corn production in the Northern Great Plains is rapidly changing because of no-till practices; producers now grow a diversity of crops with winter wheat to increase production as well as manage weeds. With the multitude of crops available, producers are asking for guidelines to sequence crops in rotations that help weed management. We developed a planning tool that lists various choices with crops when designing a rotation; the choices are arranged by impact on weed dynamics as quantified by research in the region. The tool includes choices among crops, such as varying crops with different life cycles, planting dates, or row spacing, and choices within an individual crop, such as varying cultivar or planting date. Choices among crops impact weeds the most, whereas choices within an individual crop are less effective and usually lead to lower crop yield. For example, rotations comprised of two winter annual crops followed by two summer annual crops can reduce weed populations six- to 12-fold. In contrast, replacing a standard height cultivar with a taller cultivar that is more competitive, is often inconsistent for weed management whereas crop yield may be less. Producers associated with the Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society felt that the planning tool would encourage long-range planning as well as help integrate weed management with the design of cropping systems. The purpose of the tool is to encourage ecologically-based weed management, which can reduce herbicide inputs 50% for Northern Great Plains producers.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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