Location: Integrated Cropping Systems ResearchTitle: Row and forage crop rotation effects on maize mineral nutrition and yield
Submitted to: Canadian Journal of Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2017
Publication Date: 7/17/2017
Citation: Riedell, W.E., Osborne, S.L. 2017. Row and forage crop rotation effects on maize mineral nutrition and yield. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 97:645-653. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjps-2017-0006.
Interpretive Summary: Understanding how agricultural practices can be improved to deliver more diverse ecosystem services and to mitigate past ecosystem disservices is an important priority. Diverse crop rotations have associated environmental impacts that affect a wide range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, soil health, and the conservation of biodiversity. The findings of the current study show, under this environment, that diversification of the ubiquitous corn-soybean rotation with wheat (corn-soybean-wheat rotation) increased yield while conserving soil phosphorus and potassium levels whereas diversification with alfalfa (corn-soybean-oat/pea hay-alfalfa-alfalfa) increased soil nitrate, increased grain yield, increased kernel nitrogen, but decreased both soil and kernel phosphorus and potassium. Conversely, rotation diversification with oat/pea hay (corn-soybean-oat/pea hay) did not statistically increase yield over that of C-S. These findings provide information to farmers who are considering crop rotation diversification as a way to enhance ecosystem services on their farms.
Technical Abstract: Extended crop rotations provide many attributes in support of sustainable agriculture. Objectives were to investigate rotations that included row crops and forages in terms of their effects on soil characteristics as well as on maize (Zea mays L.) stover biomass, grain yield, and mineral components. Rotation treatments, established in 1997, included maize-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] 2-yr rotation (C-S); maize-soybean-spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 3-yr rotation (C-S-W); maize-soybean-oat/pea (Hordeum vulgare L./Pisum sativum L.) hay 3-yr rotation (C-S-H); and maize-soybean-oat/pea hay underseeded with alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)-alfalfa-alfalfa 5-yr rotation (C-S-H/A-A-A). Measurements reported here were taken during the 2008 through 2011 growing seasons. Preseason soil tests showed greater NO3-N concentration under C-S-H/A-A-A (38 kg ha-1) than other rotations (average of 28), lower bulk density (1.37 g cm-3) than C-S (1.48), lower soil P (6 mg kg-1) than C-S-W (17), and lower soil K (108 mg kg-1) than C-S (121) and C-S-W (129). Maize grain yield was 10% greater in C-S-H/A-A-A and C-S-W rotations compared to C-S with C-S-H intermediate. Under C-S-H/A-A-A, kernel N was 7% greater, kernel P was 17% less, and kernel K was 7% less compared to C-S-W. Kernel Zn was lower in C-S-H (12.0 mg kg-1) than C-S (14.1) and C-S-H/A-A-A (14.5). Thus, under this environment, diversification of the ubiquitous C-S rotation with wheat (C-S-W) increased yield while conserving soil P and K levels whereas diversification with alfalfa (C-S-H/A-A-A) increased soil NO3-N, increased grain yield, increased kernel N, but decreased both soil and kernel P and K.