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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Integrated Crop Management Systems for the Mid-Southern United States

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Title: Corn and soybean rotation under reduced tillage management: impacts on soil properties, yield, and net return

Authors
item Reddy, Krishna
item Zablotowicz, Robert -
item Krutz, Larry -

Submitted to: American Journal of Plant Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2013
Publication Date: May 30, 2013
Citation: Reddy, K.N., Zablotowicz, R.M., Krutz, L.J. 2013. Corn and soybean rotation under reduced tillage management: Impacts on soil properties, yield, and net return. American Journal of Plant Sciences. 4:10-17.

Interpretive Summary: Rotating crops has the potential to increase yields without increasing production costs compared to crops grown continuously. Scientists at the USDA-ARS, Crop Production Systems Research Unit in Stoneville, MS completed a 4-yr (2007 to 2010) study that examined the effects of rotating corn and soybean under reduced tillage conditions on soil properties, yields, and net return. The six rotation systems: continuous corn (CCCC), continuous soybean (SSSS), corn-soybean (CSCS), soybean-corn (SCSC), soybean-soybean-corn-soybean (SSCS), and soybean-soybean-soybean-corn (SSSC) were used. Field preparation consisted of disking, subsoiling, disking, and bedding in the fall of 2005. After the fall of 2006, the raised beds were refurbished each fall after harvest with no additional tillage operations to maintain as reduced tillage system. The surface 5 cm soil from continuous soybean had higher pH than continuous corn in all four years. Unlike pH, total carbon and total nitrogen were higher in continuous corn compared to continuous soybean. Corn yield increased every year following rotation with soybean by 15-31% compared to continuous corn. As a result, net returns were higher in rotated corn compared with continuous corn. This study demonstrated that alternating between corn and soybean is a sustainable practice with increased net returns in corn.

Technical Abstract: A 4-yr field study was conducted from 2007 to 2010 at Stoneville, MS to examine the effects of rotating corn and soybean under reduced tillage conditions on soil properties, yields, and net return. The six rotation systems were continuous corn (CCCC), continuous soybean (SSSS), corn-soybean (CSCS), soybean-corn (SCSC), soybean-soybean-corn-soybean (SSCS), and soybean-soybean-soybean-corn (SSSC). Field preparation consisted of disking, subsoiling, disking, and bedding in the fall of 2005. After the fall of 2006, the raised beds were refurbished each fall after harvest with no additional tillage operations to maintain as reduced tillage system. The surface 5 cm soil from continuous soybean had higher pH than continuous corn in all four years. Unlike pH, total carbon and total nitrogen were higher in continuous corn compared to continuous soybean. Delta 15N was tended to be higher in continuous corn compared to continuous soybean. Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) indicated minor changes in soil microbial community in relation to cropping sequence, however there was a significant shift in rhizosphere community depending on crop. Corn yield increased every year following rotation with soybean by 16%, 31%, and 15% in 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively, compared to continuous corn. As a result, net returns were higher in rotated corn compared with continuous corn. This study demonstrated that alternating between corn and soybean is a sustainable practice with increased net returns in corn.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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