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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Are Some Crops Synergistic to Following Crops?

Author
item Anderson, Randal

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 18, 2004
Publication Date: January 1, 2005
Citation: Anderson, R.L. 2005. Are some crops synergistic to following crops? Agronomy Journal. 97:7-10.

Interpretive Summary: Producers in the Great Plains are diversifying their crop rotations. Scientists and producers have long noted that crop yield may be improved by rotating different crops, but recent research suggests that resource-use-efficiency, such as water use, also may be improved by some crop sequences. For example, winter wheat and proso millet produce more grain with the same water use, if corn is the preceding crop compared with other crops. This trend appears to be specific between crops. Knowledge of favorable sequences may help producers in semiarid regions to design rotations that moderate the effect of drought on crop growth. We suggest that scientists involved with long-term cropping systems projects consider measuring resource-use-efficiency as well as grain yield to determine if selected crop sequences enhance crop growth efficiency.

Technical Abstract: Because of improved water management, producers in the Great Plains are diversifying their crop rotations. A benefit of crop diversity is that some crop sequences can increase grain yields. Along with yield benefits, we also have noted that water-use-efficiency (WUE) of some crops can be improved by preceding crops. For example, WUE of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is improved if corn (Zea mays L.) is included in the rotation. If crops respond favorably to rotation, they either increase plant capacity and resource use or improve resource-use-efficiency (synergism). We suggest that the soil environment remaining after some crops, such as corn or legumes, synergistically improves growth efficiency of following crops. However, synergism appears to be specific between crops. We also suggest that synergism among crops would be assessed most accurately in long-term cropping systems studies.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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