Effects of tillage systems and crop rotations on soil water conservation, seedling establishment and crop production of a thin Black soil at Indian Head
The long term sustainability of agriculture for much of western Canada is dependent on the development of economically viable crop production systems that alleviate wind and water erosion. The systems required must be capable of making full use of the benefits of surface residues and standing stubble. A study was initiated in 1986 at Indian Head to examine the interactions of tillage systems and crop rotations on soil water conservation, soil characteristics, seedling establishment, crop production, plant diseases, weed populations, and production economics. Three four year rotations were then superimposed on the three tillage systems. Spring soil water under stubble conditions was significantly greater for the zero and minimum tillage than conventional tillage system for the 0-60 and 0-120 cm soil layer. Under fallow conditions, soil water conserved was similar for all three tillage systems. Seedling establishment, as measured by the number of plants emerged per meter square was similar for all crops and tillage systems. Plant development in spring wheat, as measured by Haun stage was not affected by tillage system. This implies that the perceived differences in soil temperature at seeding depth between the various tillage systems did not significantly delay plant emergence under zero and minimum tillage. Tillage system had a significant effect on grain production. Zero and minimum tillage out-yielded conventional tillage by 22 % for flax, 20 % for spring wheat on stubble and 8 % for field peas. There was no difference between tillage systems for winter wheat.
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