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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Profitability of Cropping Systems Featuring Tillage and Compost

Authors
item Singer, Jeremy
item Chase, C - IA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Kohler, Keith

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 15, 2009
Publication Date: January 7, 2010
Citation: Singer, J.W., Chase, C.A., Kohler, K.A. 2010. Profitability of Cropping Systems Featuring Tillage and Compost. Agronomy Journal. 102(2):450-456.

Interpretive Summary: Productivity rather than profitability is often used to compare agronomic systems. Increasing energy prices will force producers to scrutinize machinery operation and input costs, which will shift emphasis to profitability. The objective of this study was to compare returns to land and management for moldboard plow, chisel plow, and no-tillage with or without composted animal manure in a corn-soybean-wheat/clover rotation during three rotation cycles from 1999-2007. Corn and soybean grain yield exhibited a tillage by amendment interaction. Yield in moldboard and chisel plow with or without compost was similar, but yield in no-tillage with compost was 8 and 5% greater than without compost for corn and soybean. Wheat yielded 5% higher in moldboard and chisel plow than no-tillage and 4% higher in compost than no compost amendment. Wheat returns were similar among tillage and 9% higher when compost was added. Corn production with or without compost amendment had similar returns in moldboard plow. Chisel plow with compost had 9% greater returns than the no compost treatment. No-tillage with compost had 18% greater returns with compost amendment than without. Similar corn returns were generated for all tillage systems if compost was applied. Soybean production using no-tillage had 8% greater returns than without compost and greater returns than moldboard and chisel plow with or without compost. Farmers using chisel plow or no-tillage and compost can maintain or enhance their profitabilty when growing corn, soybean, and wheat compared to moldboard plow with or without compost.

Technical Abstract: Productivity rather than profitability is often used to compare agronomic systems. Increasing energy prices will force producers to scrutinize machinery operation and input costs, which will shift emphasis to profitability. The objective of this study was to compare returns to land and management for moldboard plow, chisel plow, and no-tillage with or without composted animal manure in a maize (Zea mays L.)-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]-wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)/clover (Trifolium spp.) rotation during three rotation cycles from 1999-2007. Maize and soybean grain and seed yield exhibited a tillage by amendment interaction. Yield in moldboard and chisel plow with or without compost was similar, but yield in no-tillage with compost was 8 and 5% greater than without compost for maize and soybean. Wheat yielded 5% higher in moldboard and chisel plow than no-tillage and 4% higher in compost than no compost amendment. Wheat returns were similar among tillage and 9% higher when compost was amended. A tillage by amendment interaction affected returns for maize and soybean. Maize production with or without compost amendment had similar returns in moldboard plow. Chisel plow with compost had 9% greater returns than the no compost treatment. No-tillage with compost had 18% greater returns with compost amendment than without. Similar maize returns were generated for all tillage systems if compost was applied. Soybean production using no-tillage had 8% greater returns than without compost and greater returns than moldboard and chisel plow with or without compost. Cycling nutrients through compost application and intercropping clover exhibits a functional synergy in no-tillage but not moldboard plow for summer annual crops, which enhances the profitability of this system.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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