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.


Tags: , ,


Leave a Reply

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 Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

Sunbelt Ag News

    Grain TV: Soybean Exports Double Expectations10-23

    AFB Grain-Soybean Close: Sharp Gains See New Highs10-23

    AFB Cotton Close: Dec. Moves Higher10-23

    AFB Rice Close: Sharply Lower Under Heavy Pressure10-23

    Livestock: Country Of Origin Labeling Debate Marches On – DTN10-23

    DTN Livestock Close: Cattle Futures Higher10-23

    Doane Cotton Close: Prices Boosted by Stock Market Strength10-23

    Small Scale Organic Farming a Good Way to Branch into Ag – DTN10-23

    DTN Cotton Close: Settles Mixed as Dec. Rallies10-23

    DTN Grain Close: Futures Make New Highs10-23

    DTN Livestock Midday: Cattle Futures Hold Narrow Gains10-23

    U.S. Grain Transportation: Higher Soybean Shipment Boosts Inspections10-23

    Advances in Farming Technology Continue to Aid Mother Nature — DTN10-23

    DTN Grain Midday: Soybean Futures Climb 15 Higher10-23

    Ethanol Production Profits Hit the Wall — Why Did it Happen?10-23

    DTN Cotton Open: Slides Lower within Tight Ranges10-23

    U.S. Energy: Crude Exports, Re-Exports Continue to Rise10-23

    DTN Livestock Open: Buyer Support to Redevelop in Beef Futures10-23

    Gasoline Prices: Show 9-Cent Decrease10-23

    Propane Stocks: Increase by 0.2M Barrels10-23

    Diesel Prices: Average Drops 4 Cents10-23

    DTN Grain Open: Futures Start Quietly Higher10-23

    Keith Good: EPA’s Approval of Enlist Duo Herbicide Challenged by Suit10-23

    Alabama: Recent Weather Radar Oddity Was Mayfly Swarm10-22

    Soybean Harvest: Prioritize Shatter-Prone Fields – DTN10-22

    Ethanol: Court Tosses E15 Labeling Lawsuit – DTN10-22

    Georgia: 2 Counties Declared Natural Disaster Areas10-22

    Arkansas: 2 Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas10-22

    AgFax Grain Review: More Lawsuits Against Syngenta; Harvest Well Behind Pace10-22

    2 Families, 2 Approaches to Building Ranch Tourism — DTN10-22

    Don’t Just Piggy-Back on Others’ Prices in Ag Commodity Markets10-22

    National Cotton Council Commends Timely APH Announcement10-22

    Wheat Growers to Seek Inclusion in APH Yield Exclusion for 2015 – DTN10-21

    Farm Shop Dream Requires Thoughtful Planning – DTN10-21

    USDA: Weekly National Peanut Prices10-21

    USDA to Implement APH Yield Exclusion for 2015 Spring Crops10-21

    Arkansas: USA Rice Outlook Conference Set Dec. 7-9 in Little Rock10-21

    AgFax Cotton Review: Lower Acres May Close Mill; Australia Acres Up10-21

    DTN Fertilizer Trends: High Costs May Alter Growers’ Tactics for 201510-21

    Herbicide Resistant Weed Summit’s Slides, Webcast Available Online10-20

    Rice and Sugar: Thailand’s Quest for World Domination10-20

    AgFax Peanut Review: NM Down 6M Pounds as State Celebrates 100 Year Crop10-20

    Livestock: WTO Rules Against U.S. in COOL Dispute — DTN10-20

    Wheat Scientists, Breeders Advocate Biotech Crop — DTN10-20

    Good on Grain: Storage Issues May be Less Severe Than Anticipated10-20

    Brazil Soybeans: Planting Falls Further Behind — DTN10-20

    Flint on Crops: Cover Crops Provide Many Benefits10-20

    New Holland Combine Sets Guinness Harvest Record10-18

    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