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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Flexible Summer Fallow in the Central Great Plains

Authors
item Lyon, D - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
item Baltensperger, D - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
item Burgener, P - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
item Nielsen, David

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 7, 2006
Publication Date: March 7, 2006
Citation: Lyon, D.J., Baltensperger, D.D., Burgener, P.A., Nielsen, D.C. 2006. Flexible summer fallow in the central Great Plains. Proceedings of the Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference. March 7-8,2006. Denver, Colo. No Page Numbers

Interpretive Summary: Summer fallow has played a significant role in dryland cropping systems in the Central Great Plains for many years. Although it stabilizes crop yields by providing more uniform soil water contents at planting, frequent use of summer fallow can increase erosion, degrade soil quality, and reduce profits and sustainability. A dynamic system using summer fallow only when soil water supplies are very low and a summer crop cannot be profitably grown would be preferable to a static system incapable of responding to the highly variable climatic and economic scenarios indicative of the region. This paper provides data supporting the use of yield/soil water relationships to determine when to crop and when to fallow, and analyzes the economics of replacing fallow with a summer crop.

Technical Abstract: Summer fallow has played a significant role in dryland cropping systems in the Central Great Plains for many years. Although it helps to stabilize crop yields, frequent use of summer fallow jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of dryland systems by degrading the soil resouce and reducing profitability. We argue that a dynamic system involving flexible summer fallow, whereby a grower's decision to transition from a summer crop to winter wheat with a short-duration spring crop or summer fallow is based on several dynamic factors including soil water and economics, would be preferable to a static system incapable of responding to the highly variable climatic and economic scenarios indicative of the region.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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