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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL RESOURCE EVALUATION OF MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS TO ENHANCE AGROECOSYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Dynamic cropping systems: Holistic approach for dryland agricultural systems in the northern Great Plains of North America

Authors
item Tanaka, Donald
item Liebig, Mark
item Krupinsky, Joseph - USDA-ARS, RETIRED
item Merrill, Stephen - USDA-ARS, RETIRED

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2008
Publication Date: December 30, 2010
Citation: Tanaka, D.L., Liebig, M.A., Krupinsky, J.M., Merrill, S.D. 2010. Dynamic cropping systems: Holistic approach for dryland agricultural systems in the northern Great Plains of North America. p. 301-324. IN: S.S. Malhi et al. (Eds.) Recent trends in soil science and agronomy research in the northern Great Plains of North America. Research Signpost, Kerala, India.

Interpretive Summary: Dynamic cropping systems are currently used in the northern Great Plains to help producers add crop diversity, conserve soil and water resources, and to develop long-term cropping systems that are resilient. Research over a ten-year period was conducted to determine influences of previous crop and crop residues on production factors. Crop production can be enhanced with appropriate crop sequencing. In general, when the previous crop was a legume (pulse), crop production was increased. Crops seeded on their own residue resulted in decreased crop production. Soil water depletion was greatest for sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn and grain sorghum and lowest for dry pea, barley, crambe, lentil, and chickpea. During dry years, previous crop soil water depletion greatly influences crop production. Information awareness is a key factor associated with dynamic cropping systems and is critical for producer sustainability. Therefore, a user-friendly computer program entitled “Crop Sequence Calculator” was designed to assist producers in determining appropriate crop sequences for cropping systems in the northern Great Plains. To meet the ever-changing agricultural environment, future dynamic cropping systems will need to include not only annual crops but livestock, perennial forages, and biofeedstocks.

Technical Abstract: Cropping systems over the past century have developed greater crop specialization, more effectively conserve our soil and water resources, and are more resilient. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the evolution of cropping systems in the Northern Great Plains and provide an approach to cropping systems management for more resilient agricultural production systems. Dynamic cropping systems help producers make critical management decisions to remain sustainable in an ever-changing agricultural environment. A key factor associated with dynamic cropping systems is information awareness, particularly the influences of a previous crop and crop residue on production factors. Crop production can be enhanced with appropriate crop sequencing. In general, when the previous crop was a legume (pulse), crop production was increased. When the crop was seeded on its own crop residue, crop production was decreased. Since information awareness is critical for producer sustainability, a user-friendly computer program entitled “Crop Sequence Calculator” was designed to assist producers in determining appropriate crop sequences for the northern Great Plains. Dynamic cropping systems of the future will need to include livestock, perennial forages, and biofeedstocks to meet the ever-changing agricultural environment.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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