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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Management Alters Seedling Emergence and Subsequent Autumn Growth and Yield in Dryland Winter Wheat-Fallow Systems in the Central Great Plains on a Clay Loam Soil

Authors
item McMaster, Gregory
item Palic, Daniel
item Dunn, Gale

Submitted to: Soil and Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 3, 2001
Publication Date: January 5, 2002
Citation: Mcmaster, G.S., Palic, D.B., Dunn, G.H. 2002. Soil management alters seedling emergence and subsequent autumn growth and yield in dryland winter wheat-fallow systems in the central great plains on a clay loam soil. International Journal of Soil and Tillage Research. Vol. 65, pp. 193-206.

Interpretive Summary: No-tillage soil management practices are being promoted in the Great Plains to reduce soil erosion, conserve limited soil water, and improve sustainability. No-tillage, with subsequent affects on residue cover, likely alters soil conditions and therefore seedling emergence and subsequent crop development and growth. Stand establishment and fall development and growth are important determinants of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield. Winter wheat seedling emergence and fall development and growth for pre-plant soil management practices were studied for 6 years using pre-plant tillage (PT) and no-tillage (NT), with three residue levels: no residue (0R), normal residue (1R), and twice-normal residue (2R) for each tillage treatment. Pre-plant tillage resulted in significant soil water loss from the plow zone. Residue had little effect on seedling emergence. No-tillage had more favorable soil water levels and temperature resulting in earlier, more uniform, and greater emergence, especially in years with low rainfall after planting. Earlier and greater seedling emergence in NT resulted in greater fall development and growth. Shoot biomass and tillering were greater in NT. At spring green-up, more soil water in the profile was available in NT. Grain yield was always equal or greater in NT than in PT, and positively correlated with earlier/greater seedling emergence and fall growth. Based on 6 years of data, management practices such as no-tillage favoring seed germination and seedling emergence and resulting in greater fall biomass will enhance soil protection, reduce winterkill, increase snow catch, reduce evaporation, and benefit yield.

Technical Abstract: Stand establishment and subsequent fall development and growth are important determinants of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield. Various soil management practices available to producers alter soil properties and conditions, which likely alters seedling emergence and crop development and growth. Winter wheat seedling emergence and fall development and growth for pre-plant soil management practices were studied for 6 years using a split plot design with pre-plant tillage (PT) and no-tillage (NT) being the main plot and three residue levels within each tillage treatment: no residue (0R), normal residue (1R), and twice-normal residue (2R). Pre-plant tillage resulted in significant soil water loss from the plow zone. No-tillage plots had more favorable soil water levels resulting in earlier, more uniform, and greater seedling emergence in 4 years. This is especially critical for stand establishment in years with low rainfall after planting. Residue had little effect on emergence. Using soil or air temperature did not account for differences among treatments. Earlier and greater seedling emergence in NT treatments resulted in greater fall development and growth. Shoot biomass, tiller density, and leaf numbers were greater in NT, and again residue had little effect. At spring green-up, more soil water in the profile was available in NT. Grain yield was always equal or greater in NT than in PT, and positively correlated with earlier/greater seedling emergence and fall growth. Based on 6 years of data, management practices such as no-tillage favoring seed germination and seedling emergence and resulting in greater fall biomass will enhance soil protection, reduce winterkill, increase snow catch, reduce evaporation, and benefit yield.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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