Location: Sugarbeet and Potato Research
Project Number: 3060-21650-001-044-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Dec 31, 2023
(1) Measure how replacement of fallow and cover crops with pulse crops in a dryland wheat rotation affects system water use efficiency, water infiltration, soil health, and soil fertility relative to fallow and cover crop. (2) Evaluate the impact of incorporating pulse crops as a fallow or cover crop replacement on the performance of the subsequent wheat crop yield and quality and overall productivity of each system.
Studies will be conducted on two Cooperator research farms covering different annual precipitation zones in the semi-arid region of western Nebraska and southeastern Wyoming: (1) Lingle, WY (13 inches) – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center, (2) Sidney, NE (16 inches) – High Plains Agricultural Lab. Four crop rotations will be evaluated for soil health, water use, overall rotation health, and whole rotation production. A winter wheat-fallow (WW-F) rotation will be used for a control. Winter wheat-cover crop (WW-CC) will be the standard fallow replacement control. The cover crop will be a multi-species cocktail typical for the region. Pulse crops of grain pea and chickpea will be the two experimental treatments. Both treatments will have grain pea as the primary pulse crop in the rotation. The Risk Management Agency requires pea to be in the rotation once every three years to reduce disease issues. The first experimental rotation will be winter wheat-pea-winter wheat-cover crop (WW-P-WW-CC). The second experimental rotation will replace the CC phase with chickpea (CP). Chickpea is approved to use in rotation with peas as they do not share the same soil borne diseases. Chickpea has a target harvest date for the region of September and will be followed with spring wheat (SW) instead of WW, making the rotation SW-P-WW-CP. Small-plots (30’x30’) will be established to evaluate one cycle (4 years) of the crop rotations (WW-F, WW-CC, WW-P-WW-CC, SW-P-WW-CP) with all phases of the rotation grown all years with three replications per location. Data will be collected on water utilization, soil health, soil microbial activity, soil aggregate stability, soil water infiltration, crop biomass, crop yield, gain protein, and system profitability over the 4-year rotation cycle.