DRYLAND CROPPING SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT FOR THE CENTRAL GREAT PLAINS
Location: Central Plains Resources Management Research
Title: A Use of Skip-Row Planting as a Strategy for Drought Mitigation in the West Central Great Plains
Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 11, 2008
Publication Date: March 5, 2008
Citation: Vigil, M.F., Henry, W.B., Calderon, F.J., Poss, D.J., Nielsen, D.C., Benjamin, J.G., Klein, R. 2008. A use of Skip-row Planting as a Strategy for Drought Mitigation in the West Central Great Plains. Meeting Proceedings. Presented at the 2008 Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference. Denver, Colo. March 5, 2008. Vol. 12:101-106.
For dryland farmers in the Central Great Plains region (CGPR) mitigating the deleterious effects of drought on crop production continues to be their greatest challenge. Skip-row planting of corn and sorghum has recently developed as a strategy for mitigating drought in the dryland regions of the CGPR. Here we compare 16 site-years of no-till feed grain yields when planted skip-row and when planted conventionally in Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas (over half of the locations were on farm replicated trials). The idea is that a wider row arrangement forces a change in the timing of soil-water availability and use, which may mitigate drought stress during the critical flowering period. Three alternative planting schemes were investigated and compared to planting in conventional 0.76m rows (30 inch rows). These were plant 2 rows, skip 2 rows (P2S2); plant 1, skip 1 (P1S1); and a plant 2, skip 1 (P2S1). Corn plots were seeded with roundup ready hybrids in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Sorghum was generally concept protected seed. Some of the sites included variable plant population in combination with alternative planting arrangements. There exists a trend for the alternative planting arrangements to yield higher than conventionally planted corn and sorghum when yields are less than 3500 kg ha-1 (50-60 bushels/acre). The effect is not always statistically significant. We did not observe either a disadvantage or an advantage if yields potentials are greater than this up to at least 5000 kg ha-1 (80 bushels/acre). An analysis of these data would suggest, that the alternative planting arrangements show potential for greater yields in dryer areas and/or in dry years where yields are less than 3500 kg ha-1 (56 bushel).