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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Agricultural Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #391479

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

Location: Agricultural Systems Research

Title: The impact of no-till crop rotation on dryland soil properties and crop yields

Author
item Sainju, Upendra

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/9/2022
Publication Date: 8/23/2022
Citation: Sainju, U.M. 2022. The impact of no-till crop rotation on dryland soil properties and crop yields. Agronomy Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/agj2.21148.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/agj2.21148

Interpretive Summary: Producers in dryland cropping systems in the northern Great Plains have been using crop-fallow and continuous monocropping as conventional cropping systems for the last several decades. Both of these cropping systems can reduce crop yields either by reducing annualized yield and or by increasing weed and pest infestations. The crop-fallow system can also reduce soil health. Information is needed about how legume-nonlegume crop rotation replacing fallow or cereal monocropping can affect soil health, crop yields, and economic returns. An ARS researcher at Sidney, MT, working on the effect of long-term crop rotations on 66 soil properties, crop yields, and economic returns at two dryland farm sites, reported that crop rotation affected variably on soil properties, but mean yields across years were not different between crop rotation and continuous monocropping at both sites. Furthermore, crop rotation increased net economic returns compared to continuous monocropping, regardless of study sites. These results suggest that crop rotations can sustain crop yields and enhance producers’ farm income compared to continuous monocropping in dryland cropping systems in the northern Great Plains.

Technical Abstract: Information on the effect of crop rotation on a broad range of soil properties, long-term crop yields, and economic return is needed to evaluate its benefits on ecosystem services and farm income compared to monocropping. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of crop rotation [barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)/spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-pea (Pisum sativum L.) rotation] and continuous monocropping [continuous barley/spring wheat] on 66 soil physical, chemical, biological, and biochemical properties, long-term crop yields, and net economic returns at two dryland farm sites (14- and 36-yr-old) in the northern Great Plains. Soil samples collected to a depth of 15 cm in April 2019 were analyzed for soil properties, crop yields determined, and net economic returns calculated. Crop rotation increased 16 out of 66 soil properties, but other properties were either not different or lower than continuous monocropping at both sites. Longer duration experiment showed more differences in soil properties due to crop rotation than shorter duration experiment. Annualized crop yields also varied between crop rotation and continuous monocropping in various years, but mean crop yields across years were not different between them, regardless of experimental sites. Net economic return was greater with crop rotation than continuous monocropping at both sites. Barley/spring wheat-pea rotation can sustain crop yields and enhance producers’ income compared to continuous barley/spring wheat in dryland cropping systems in the semiarid region of the northern Great Plains.