Impact of tillage system, preceding crops, and P fertilizer on economic performance of flax production
Conservation farming is a system approach that considers all factors that affect production. Reduced tillage is one of the methods of conservation farming and is becoming increasingly popular on the prairie. This will impact directly on nutrient availability and on fertilizer and other chemical management decisions. Phosphorus (P) supply, and its availability in early stages of plant growth, is critical to the determination of optimum crop yield. Producers frequently avoid P application in flax and increase the P supply in the preceding crops since flax is very sensitive to seed-placed applications of monoammonium phosphate. Along with supplying residual P, a preceding crop such as wheat and canola may also have different impacts on yield and performance of flax depending upon its association with mycorrhizae. Since flax is a highly mycorrhizal crop, it is possible that mycorrhizal associations could be responsible for part of the positive response that flax shows in zero-till systems and the limited P response observed in recent studies. If so then P fertility requirements in flax could be greatly affected by the tillage system and by whether the preceding crop was mycorrhizal or not. Phosphorus fertilization could possibly be reduced or eliminated in flax grown in zero-till following a mycorrhizal crop and optimized in flax grown under conventional tillage management. By more clearly defining the P requirements of flax, canola and wheat grown under different management systems, it is possible to reduce inputs while maintaining or improving crop yield and quality. While many research studies have evaluated the economic impact of tillage systems on N fertility requirements, there has been very limited information available on the economic impact of tillage management and P phytoavailability or on the impact of the tillage system and past phosphorus fertilizer management on phosphorus response of crops. The objective of this study is to evaluate the economic impact of flax on tillage system, P fertilizer application, preceding crop, and level of P fertilizer applied in preceding crop.
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