Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kansas: Study Reinforces That Fallow Aids Wheat

AgFax.Com - Your Online Ag News Source


Farmers in semiarid western Kansas have known since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s that incorporating a fallow period into wheat cropping systems is beneficial for wheat productivity. But a Kansas State University study also indicates that continuous cropping increases the percentage of precipitation that can be used by the crop.

In the first stage of an ongoing study, K-State research crop scientist Rob Aiken found evidence that fallow helps “drought-proof” the farms in western Kansas. He also found that when increasing crop intensity by going to continuous cropping, the amount of precipitation available for crop production was increased, but less grain was produced.

“The wheat-fallow system accumulates water over a two-year period, producing a single wheat crop,” said Aiken, who is based at K-State’s Northwest Research-Extension Center in Colby, Kan. “Farmers really picked up on this in the ‘Dirty 30s.’ It’s a long-standing cropping practice for good reason.”

Tillage provides weed control but often leaves soil exposed, which can promote evaporation and erosion. Frequently, 80 percent or more precipitation is lost to evaporation during a fallow period, he said.

“With fallow, we’re not very effective in storing water,” he added. More intensive crop sequences use feed grains and oilseeds to reduce the fallow periods and increase crop access to precipitation.

“Our objective with the study was to compare water use, grain yield and biomass productivity for 10 cropping sequences, which all included winter wheat,” Aiken said. Corn or grain sorghum feedgrains were included in nine of the crop sequences; six sequences were cropped continuously by including an oilseed crop – spring canola, soybean or sunflower.

“Our results in the first stage (2002-2007) showed that by increasing crop intensity, going from wheat-fallow to continuous cropping, we nearly doubled the amount of precipitation available for crop production,” he said.

The difficulty, he said, is that despite increased precipitation, crop water productivity dropped from 221 pounds per acre inch to 145 pounds per acre inch. So the message is to proceed with care with continuous cropping.

Farmers use many different sequences besides wheat-fallow, which produces a crop every two years so is considered 50 percent crop intensity. Another is 67 percent crop intensity, which results in two crops every three years, for example wheat-a feed grain or oilseed-fallow.

 

“One of the objectives with this study is to look at 100 percent intensity,” Aiken said, such as planting spring canola, which comes out in mid-July, so does not use as much water as soybean or sunflower, which is the most intense in terms of water use.

Cropping sequences included three-year cycles of wheat, feed grain (corn or grain sorghum), and oilseed (sunflower, soybean, canola) or fallow, as well as wheat-fallow (two-year cycle) and wheat-corn-sunflower-fallow (four-year cycle). Each phase of a sequence was present in each year in triplicate sets of plots.

Initial study results for the period 2002-2007, which included a three-year drought, indicated several trends:

•       Land productivity varied with rainfall among years;

•       Wheat productivity benefitted from summer fallow;

•       Grain sorghum productivity exceeded corn when limited by water;

•       Continuous cropping increased the percentage of precipitation which could be used by a crop, but reduced overall land productivity; and

•       Stand establishment, timing, and amount of water limited oilseed productivity.

“Annualized productivity, averaged over all growing seasons, indicated that land productivity was greatest for the wheat-grain sorghum-fallow sequence and similar for the wheat-fallow sequence,” Aiken said. “Land productivity for the wheat-corn-fallow sequence exceeded that of continuous cropping with grain sorghum and either spring canola or soybean.”

K-State agricultural economist, Dan O’Brien collaborated with Aiken on the study. They found that greatest net returns to land and management occurred with the wheat-grain sorghum-fallow and wheat-fallow sequences. Wheat-corn-fallow also gave positive net returns but economic returns were negative for other crop sequences.

“Considering the drought conditions in three of the initial seven years of the study, the threshold for economic harvest was always met for wheat after fallow, but was met only in 70 percent of the cases for wheat after oilseed (continuous cropping),” Aiken said.

“Only in 2007 did all sequences post positive net returns,” the scientist added.

The research is continuing, Aiken said, although sunflower has not been planted since 2008 because of its intense moisture use.

“Corn has good production potential under favorable conditions,” he said, noting that productivity and net returns have increased since the 2002-2007 study results.

More information about the first study and Aiken’s other research is available online.


Leave a Reply

Name and Email Address are required fields. Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

Sunbelt Ag News

    Attention Weed Zombies – There’s a Robot Killin’ Machine in Your Future1-26

    Doane Cotton Close: Global Acreage Expected to Drop1-26

    DTN Livestock Close: Futures End Mixed1-26

    Mid-South Ag, Environmental Law Conference, Memphis, April 171-26

    Louisiana Soybeans Lead Nation in Average Yields1-26

    DTN Cotton Close: Surges to Strong Gains1-26

    Wilbur-Ellis Shifts Operation from California to Colorado1-26

    Farming: Singing About It1-26

    DTN Grain Close: Meal Demand Pushes Soybeans Higher1-26

    Livestock: Genomic Testing Makes Young Bulls a Safer Buy – DTN1-26

    DTN Livestock Midday: Losses Hold in Feeder Cattle Futures1-26

    Trucking Industry Faces Critical Shortage of Drivers — DTN1-26

    DTN Grain Midday: Soybean Trade Goes Higher1-26

    USDA Clears Way for BASF’s Herbicide Engenia1-26

    FMC, Emerge Application Solutions Collaborate on 3Rive 3D Technology1-26

    DTN Fertilizer Outlook: Slow Demand Holds Prices Down1-26

    DTN Cotton Open: Bounces Following Trader Data1-26

    Flint on Crops: Can I Grow Conventional Cotton Profitably?1-26

    DTN Livestock Open: Futures Set to Begin with Mixed Prices1-26

    DTN Grain Open: Futures Start Mostly Lower1-26

    Keith Good: Farmland Holds its Value Despite Drop in Commodity Prices1-26

    California Almonds: Dormant Sprays Not Reducing Lower Limb Dieback1-25

    Shurley On Cotton: NCC Planting Intentions Could Sway Market1-25

    Rose On Cotton: Profitability In ’15? The “Ifs” Must Line Up Right.1-24

    Rice Market: Seen a Soybean Rally Lately? Some Farmers Look for Alternative Crop.1-23

    Corn: Resistant Rootworm Webinars Discuss Strategies1-23

    Cleveland on Cotton: World Plantings Need Reduction. How Much?1-23

    Farmland Values Could Stay High with Investor Interest – DTN1-23

    Livestock Manure Management Could Face Stricter Regulations – DTN1-23

    Soybeans: Tighten Belts to Survive Market Downturn – DTN1-23

    Texas Ag Forum, Austin, Feb. 201-23

    Welch on Wheat: Conditions Deteriorating but Still Mostly Positive1-23

    Louisiana Rice: Stored Insect Pest Management Workshop, Crowley, Feb. 251-23

    AFB Grain-Soybean Close: Corn Turns Higher, Wheat, Soybeans Continue Declines1-23

    AFB Cotton Close: Futures Chart bearish Key Reversal1-23

    AFB Rice Close: Futures End Just Above Support1-23

    USDA: Peanut Price Highlights1-23

    Welch on Grain: Corn Export Sales Hit Marketing Year High1-23

    John Deere Indefinitely Lays Off 910 In Ag Assembly Plants1-23

    Mississippi Outdoors: Winter a Good Time for Fish Habitat Improvements1-23

    U.S. Grain Transportation: Corn, Wheat Inspections Increase Markedly1-23

    DTN Dried Distillers Grain: China, Food Safety Act to Shape Outlook1-23

    Grains: Crop Insurance Payment Indicators Based on Jan. WASDE1-22

    U.S. Energy: Falling Gasoline Prices Linked to Crude Oil, Other Factors1-22

    Residential Propane Price Increases, Heating Oil Declines1-22

    Propane Stocks Fall Over 3M Barrels1-22

    Gasoline Prices Continue Downward1-22

    Farming and Bankruptcy – 9 Lessons You Need to Know1-22

    Diesel Drops Below $31-22

    Old World Bollworm Coming Soon to U.S. Mainland — DTN1-22

    Cotton: Monsanto’s New Herbicide Tolerant Variety Approved1-22

    Base Acre and Yield Updating Decisions Due by Feb. 271-22

    Kansas: Central Plains Irrigation Conference, Colby, Feb. 17-181-22

    CHS, Northern Partners Cooperative Announce Expansions In Louisiana, Illinois1-22

    Mississippi: Quail, Turkey Management Workshop Feb. 27 in Jackson1-22

    Ag Policy: Trade May Be Only Bright Spot in 2015 Politics – DTN1-21

    Montana: Ranch Legacy Survives Salty Soils, Water Shortages – DTN1-21

    Soybeans After Soybeans Can be Problematic — DTN1-21

    Row Crop Margin Squeeze: 12 Strategies To Help You Survive1-21

    Texas Pecans: Good Demand, Variable but Improving Quality1-21

    Western Region Pecans: Good Demand with Moderate Deliveries1-21

    Louisiana Pecans: Harvest, Sales Mostly Finished1-21

    Sunbelt Ag Events

     

    About Us

    AgFax.Com covers agricultural trends and production topics, with an emphasis on news about cotton, rice, peanuts, corn, soybeans, wheat and tree crops, including almonds, pecans, walnuts and pistachios.

      

    This site also serves as the on-line presence of electronic crop and pest reports published by AgFax Media LLC (formerly Looking South Communications).

        

    Click here to subscribe to our free reports.

      

    We provide early warnings and confirmations about pests, diseases and other factors that influence yield. Our goal is to quickly provide farmers and crop advisors with information needed to make better and more profitable decisions.

         

    Our free weekly crop and pest advisories include:

    • AgFax Midsouth Cotton, covering cotton production and news in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri.

    • AgFax Southeast Cotton, covering cotton production and news in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

    • AgFax Southwest Cotton (new for 2013!), covering cotton production and news in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico.

    • AgFax West (formerly MiteFax: SJV Cotton), covering California cotton, alfalfa, tomatoes and other non-permanent crops in California's Central Valley.

    • AgFax Rice covering rice production and news in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.

    • AgFax Peanuts, covering peanut production in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

    • AgFax Southern Grain: covering soybeans, corn, milo and small grains in Southern states.

    • AgFax Almonds, covering almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other tree crops in California's Central Valley.

    • AgCom 101, providing guidance to ag professionals involved in social media.

    Our newsletters are sponsored by the following companies: FMC Corporation Chemtura Dow AgroSciences.

          

    Mission statement:

    Make it as easy as possible for our community of readers to find and/or receive needed information.

              

    Contact Information:

    AgFax Media. LLC

    142 Westlake Drive Brandon, MS 39047

    601-992-9488 Office 601-992-3503 Fax

    Owen Taylor Debra L. Ferguson Laurie Courtney

          

    Circulation Questions?

    Contact Laurie Courtney