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Cropping systems; Crop yields


Current corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) production practices used by many US farmers are quite energy intensive while allowing excessive soil erosion. An experiment was conducted at two locations in southern Minnesota on a Webster clay loam soil to investigate narrow (4.57-m), alternate strip systems planted on ridges (ridge tillage). A 3-crop [corn-soybean-wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) interseeded with Nitro alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) or hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth)] system was compared to a conventional corn-soybean strip system. Rows were oriented N-S at one location and E-W at the other. Results from 3 years suggest that narrow alternate strips of corn, soybean, and wheat in a ridge-till system provide excellent surface residue coverage and satisfy erosion control goals. Corn production was increased by 3 o/o with E-W rows and 13o/o with N-S rows due to the positive border effects in the narrow strips. Soybean yields in strips alternated only with corn were reduced by 7 o/o CN-S rows) and 10 o/o CE-W rows) due to competition and shading by the corn. When grown in a 3-crop system, soybean yields were reduced only by 3 o/o (N-S rows) and 5 o/o (E-W rows) because of less shading when bordered by wheat. Wheat yields were unaffected by the border crops in the E-W scenario and were reduced by 10 o/o in the west 1/3 strip bordering corn in the N-S rows. Wheat introduced into the traditional corn-soybean strip system not only reduced border effects on soybeans but also aided interseeding of legumes. In the unusually cool and wet year of 1993, legumes provided a nitrogen credit of about 45 kg N ha-l.

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