Crop Sequence Influences on Sustainable Spring Wheat Production in the Northern Great Plains
Cropping systems in American agriculture are highly successful since World War II, but have become highly specialized, standardized, and simplified to meet the demands of an industrialized food system. Minimal attention has been given to the efficient exploitation of crop diversity and the synergistic and/or antagonistic relationships of crops in crop sequences. Objectives of our research were to determine if previous crop sequences have long-term benefits and/or drawbacks on spring wheat seed yield, seed N concentration, and seed precipitation-use efficiency in the semiarid northern Great Plains, USA. Research was conducted 6 km southwest of Mandan, ND using a 10 × 10 crop matrix technique as a research tool to evaluate multiple crop sequence effects on spring wheat ( triticum aestivum L.) production in 2004 and 2005. Spring wheat production risks can be mitigated when second year crop residue was dry pea ( Pisium sativum L.) averaged over all first year crop residues. When compared to spring wheat as second year crop residue in the dry year of 2004, dry pea as the second year residue crop resulted in a 30% spring wheat seed yield increase. Sustainable cropping systems need to use precipitation efficiently for crop production, especially during below average precipitation years like 2004. Precipitation use efficiency average over all treatments, during the below average precipitation year was 23% greater than the above average precipitation year of 2005. Diversifying crops in cropping systems improves production efficiencies and resilience of agricultural systems.
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