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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #364522

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Do we have to sacrifice our grasslands for corn and soybean production?

item Hendrickson, John
item Archer, David
item Liebig, Mark
item Kronberg, Scott
item Franco, Jose

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2019
Publication Date: 11/10/2019
Citation: Hendrickson, J.R., Archer, D.W., Liebig, M.A., Kronberg, S.L., Franco Jr, J.G. 2019. Do we have to sacrifice our grasslands for corn and soybean production?. Meeting Abstract. 1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Between 2006 and 2011, over 500000 ha of grassland were converted to cropland in the western Corn Belt reducing biodiversity, wildlife and pollinator habitat, and soil quality. But loss of grasslands to crop production is continuing. Therefore, we evaluated a system of planting annual crops into existing perennial forages to determine if annual crop production could occur without reducing subsequent perennial production. Between 2013 and 2016 we planted corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max) into fields dominated by either alfalfa (Medicago sativa) or smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermus) with three vegetation suppression treatments: 1) no vegetation was removed but perennial production was suppressed with ½ rate of glyphosate (NHHS); 2) perennial production was removed and then suppressed with ½ rate of glyphosate (HHS); 3) the perennial vegetation was suppressed with a full rate of glyphosate (TSO) and 4) a non-treated or seeded control plot. Treatments were replicated four times. Corn production had a year x perennial forage x treatment interaction primarily driven by the year and perennial forage interaction. Except for corn grown in the alfalfa field in 2014, the TSO treatment produced more corn grain yield than the other two treatments. Soybean grain yield was greater for the TSO and there were no differences between the HHS and NHHS treatments. Soybeans grown in bromegrass dominated fields in 2014 produced significantly less than soybeans grown in alfalfa dominated field but there were no differences for the remaining years. The TSO plots in the bromegrass dominated field had greater forage yield than the controls 1 and 2 years after being planted and there were no differences in the alfalfa dominated field. Findings from this study suggests producers could potentially produce an annual grain crop in perennial forages without significantly harming perennial forages.