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Title: Geographic trends in alfalfa stand age and crops that follow alfalfa

item YOST, MATT - University Of Minnesota
item Russelle, Michael
item COULTER, JEFFREY - University Of Minnesota
item BOLSTAD, PAUL - University Of Minnesota
item JENKS, ANDREW - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: North Central Extension Industry Soil Fertility Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/14/2013
Publication Date: 11/20/2013
Citation: Yost, M.A., Russelle, M.P., Coulter, J.A., Bolstad, P.V., Jenks, A.C. 2013. Geographic trends in alfalfa stand age and crops that follow alfalfa. In: Proceedings of the North Central Extension Industry Soil Fertility Conference, November 20-21, 2013, Des Moines, Iowa. 29:129.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service cropland data layers and Soil Survey Geographic Database layers were combined for six states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin) and seven years (2006-2012) to determine how soil texture and geographic location affect the length of alfalfa stands and how soil texture, alfalfa stand age, and year affect the first- and second-year crop following alfalfa. Soil texture and geographic location both significantly affected alfalfa stand age; and alfalfa stand age, soil texture, and year all significantly affected the first- and second-year crop type following alfalfa, but results varied greatly by state. Alfalfa grown in the Great Plains region was kept in production longer than alfalfa grown in the Corn Belt region of the upper midwestern United States. Corn was the most frequent first-year (61 to 92% of the first-crop) and second-year crop (51 to 76% of second-year crop) in all states except North Dakota (39% corn for first-year crop and 30% corn for second-year crop). Small grains were the first-year crop 29% of the time in the Dakotas and 1 to 11% of the time in the other four states and were the second-year crop 27% of the time in North Dakota and 2 to 9% of the second-year crop in the remaining five states. Surprisingly, soybean was the first-crop following alfalfa 12% (3-14%) of the time and was the second-year crop 28% (14 to 38%) of the time across states. The high proportion of alfalfa that is followed for one or two years by crops with low or no N fertilizer requirement (small grains and soybean, respectively) indicates that alfalfa N credits to following crops are often not utilized. This approach to analyzing crop rotation patterns also may prove useful for other annual and perennial crop rotations.