Response of cereals to fertilizer N on pulse and other stubbles
To optimize cropping systems requires knowledge of effects of the preceding crop on the grain yield and protein and the response to N of a following cereal crop. To gain this knowledge, we grew hard red spring (HRS) wheat, durum wheat, Canadian Prairie Spring (CPS)-class wheat, Canadian Western Extra Strong (CWES)-class wheat, and barley on barley, bean, coriander, fenugreek, kabuli chickpea, lentil, mustard, and pea stubble at different N fertilizer rates over 9 site-yr: Swift Current (1998-2002), Redvers (2001-02), and Canora (1999 and 2002). N rates were medium (recommended rate based on fall soil nitrate in cereal stubble), low (15-30 kg ha-1 less than medium) and high (15-30 kg ha-1). There was a significant effect of stubble on subsequent cereal grain yield. Cereal on cereal stubble was consistently lowest or second lowest yielding (typically 100 – 800 kg ha-1 lower than other stubbles) with the exception of 2001 at Swift Current when it was the highest yielding. This latter effect was attributed to the superior moisture conserving benefits of cereal stubble during this year with extreme early drought. No single cereal crop was consistently highest or lowest yielding. The trend was for greatest grain protein on pulse stubbles although stubble effects on protein were not as great as on yield owing to confounding yield dilution effects. Within this narrow range of fertilizer N rates, yield or protein response to N was weak. Generally, there were no significant interactions between stubble and cereal crop or stubble and fertilizer indicating the effect of stubble was consistent across cereal type and N rates. The cereal yield and protein response to N on the non-cereal stubbles was not significantly different than that on cereal stubble with the exception that barley protein responded more positively to N on lentil stubble than on cereal stubble. Cereals grown on pulse stubbles tended to have higher yields and protein than on other stubbles. For HRS wheat and durum, the chance of achieving high protein grain was greatest with high fertilizer N on pea stubble (>75% of years). Applying a high fertilizer N rate on cereal stubbles did not markedly increase the chance of attaining high protein wheat or durum. For barley, where low protein is desired for malting, the best chance for low protein barley was on cereal and mustard stubble although barley protein appeared less affected by stubble and fertilizer N than wheat or durum.
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