Location: Integrated Cropping Systems ResearchTitle: Diversified crop rotations are a powerful management strategy for improving soil health and function
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2018
Publication Date: 7/31/2018
Citation: Lehman, R.M., Osborne, S.L. 2018. Diversified crop rotations are a powerful management strategy for improving soil health and function [abstract]. Soil Health Institute annual meeting, Albuquerque NM, July 31-Aug. 3, 2018.
Technical Abstract: Diversified crop rotations are seldom used in many parts of the country, yet they have long been known to be an effective tactic for pest, pathogen, and weed control. Using a 16-year replicated field plot trial in eastern South Dakota, we report positive changes in soil health parameters, greenhouse gas emissions, and crop yields when a two-year, no-till, corn-soybean rotation is diversified to a four-year crop rotation by adding two additional crops such as winter wheat, spring wheat, field pea, oat, and sunflower. When winter wheat and field pea were added to diversify the two-year corn-soybean rotation, we observed 24% less annual N2O emissions, increased SOC, and 22% higher soybean yields. Increases in soil health measures such as beta-glucosidase activity, permanganate-oxidizable C, and soil protein were most closely associated with the inclusion of oat or sunflower into the crop rotation. Diversified crop rotations are a vital tactic to improve soil health and function, as well as instill resilience to climatic stresses, and enable other tactics like cover cropping to be implemented in some regions.