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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Agricultural Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376584

Research Project: Ecologically-Sound Pest, Water and Soil Management Practices for Northern Great Plains Cropping Systems

Location: Agricultural Systems Research

Title: Crop water and nitrogen productivity in response to long-term diversified crop rotations and management systems

item Sainju, Upendra
item LENSSEN, ANDREW - Iowa State University
item Allen, Brett
item Jabro, Jalal "jay"
item Stevens, William - Bart

Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/24/2021
Publication Date: 9/2/2021
Citation: Sainju, U.M., Lenssen, A.W., Allen, B.L., Jabro, J.D., Stevens, W.B. 2021. Crop water and nitrogen productivity in response to long-term diversified crop rotations and management systems. Agricultural Water Management. 257. Article 107149.

Interpretive Summary: Producers in dryland cropping systems in the northern Great Plains use crop-fallow or continuous cropping that can inefficiently use soil water and reduce annualized crop yield. Improved management techniques are needed to enhance crop yield and water and nitrogen productivity. Researchers at ARS, Sidney, MT reported that diversified crop rotation with greater rotation length increased crop yield, soil water storage, and water productivity compared to continuous monocropping. Alternate-year rotation of cereal and pulse increased nitrogen productivity, but lack of grain production with forage reduced annualized grain yield with cereal-pulse-forage rotation compared to continuous monocropping. Growers in the northern Great Plains can effectively use soil water and enhance crop yield as well as water and nitrogen productivity by using diversified crop rotations compared to continuous monocropping in dryland cropping systems.

Technical Abstract: Diversified crop rotation and management system may affect crop yield, water use, and water and N productivity. We studied the effect of tillage, crop rotation, and management system on preplant and postharvest soil water contents, annualized crop yield, water use, and water and N productivity from 2005 to 2010 in the northern Great Plains, USA. Tillage were conventional tillage and no-tillage; crop rotations were continuous spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) (CW), spring wheat-pea (Pisum sativum L.) (WP), spring wheat-forage barley (Horduem vulgarie L.)-pea (WBP), and spring wheat-forage barley-corn (Zea mays L.)-pea (WBCP). Managements were traditional (a combination of recommended seeding rate, broadcast N fertilization, early planting, and short stubble height) and alternate (a combination of increased seeding rate, banded N fertilization, late planting, and tall stubble height) systems. Aboveground biomass, preplant and postharvest soil water contents, and water productivity were 15-253% greater with WBCP than CW in 3 out of 6 yr. Crop water use and biomass N accumulation varied with tillage, crop rotations, and management systems in various years. Grain yield and grain water productivity were 25-41% lower with WBP than other crop rotations. Grain N accumulation, grain N productivity, and grain and biomass N removal indices were 20-154% greater with WP than CW and WBCP, but biomass N productivity was 98-110% lower with CW than other crop rotations. Diversified crop rotation with longer rotation length increased crop yield, soil water content, and water productivity, but shorter rotation with legume increased grain and biomass N productivity, and N removal.