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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345941

Research Project: Improved Crop Production Systems for the Northeast

Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Potato Growth and Yield Characteristics under Different Cropping System Management Strategies in Northeastern U.S.

Author
item Larkin, Robert - Bob
item HONEYCUTT, C - Soil Health Institute
item GRIFFIN, T - Tufts University
item Olanya, Modesto
item He, Zhongqi
item HALLORAN, J - Former ARS Employee

Submitted to: Agronomy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2021
Publication Date: 1/16/2021
Citation: Larkin, R.P., Honeycutt, C.W., Griffin, T.S., Olanya, O.M., He, Z., Halloran, J.M. 2021. Potato growth and yield characteristics under different cropping system management strategies in northeastern U.S. Agronomy Journal. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010165.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010165

Interpretive Summary: Crop productivity, assessed by crop growth and yield characteristics, is the culmination of many factors. Changes in cropping systems and management practices that improve soil health may greatly enhance crop productivity. In this research, potato cropping systems designed to focus on management goals of soil conservation, soil improvement (SI), and disease suppression (DS), as well as standard rotation controls, were evaluated for their effects on potato crop growth, yield, and nutrient characteristics under both irrigated and non-irrigated conditions in field trials in Maine. The SI system, which included yearly compost amendments, substantially increased most growth measurements relative to the other systems, such as indicators of leaf area and photosynthesis, and shoot and root biomass, especially under non-irrigated conditions. All systems increased tuber yield relative to the non-rotation control, but the SI system resulted in overall higher yields (total, marketable, and large-size tubers) than all other systems with no irrigation. The DS system, which contained disease-suppressive green manures and cover crops, produced the overall highest yields under irrigation. Irrigation increased tuber yields in all cropping systems except SI. This research demonstrated that irrigation and cropping systems that incorporate management practices such as increased rotation length, the use of cover crops, green manures, reduced tillage, and organic amendments, can substantially improve potato crop growth and yield under normal field conditions in Maine. This research is useful for scientists, extension personnel, growers, and consumers, providing information on the development of improved cropping systems that enhance potato production and sustainability.

Technical Abstract: Cropping systems and management practices that improve soil health may greatly enhance crop productivity. Four different potato cropping systems, designed to address specific management goals of soil conservation (SC), soil improvement (SI), disease suppression (DS), and a status quo standard rotation (SQ), along with a non-rotation (PP) control, were evaluated for their effects on potato crop growth, nutrient, and yield characteristics under both irrigated and non-irrigated (rainfed) conditions in field trials in Maine from 2004 to 2010. Both cropping system and irrigation significantly (P<0.05) affected most potato crop growth and yield parameters. All rotations increased tuber yield relative to the non-rotation PP control, and the SI system, which included yearly compost amendments, resulted in overall higher yields (total, marketable, and large-size tuber yields) than all other systems with no irrigation (increases of 14 to 90%), but DS, which contained disease-suppressive green manures and cover crops, produced the highest yields overall under irrigation (increases of 11 to 35%). Irrigation increased tuber yields in all cropping systems except SI (average increase 27-37%). SI also resulted in significant increases in leaf area duration, chlorophyll content, and root and shoot biomass relative to other cropping systems, as well as higher shoot and tuber tissue concentrations of N, P, and K. Overall, cropping systems that incorporate management practices such as increased rotation length and the use of cover crops, green manures, reduced tillage, and, particularly, organic amendments, can substantially improve potato crop growth and yield. Irrigation also substantially increased growth and yield under normal field conditions in Maine.