Economics of crop diversification opportunities for the Brown and Dark Brown Soil Zones of Saskatchewan
Producers, particularly in the Brown and drier parts of the Dark Brown soil zones, have begun to extend and diversify their crop rotations, becoming less reliant on summerfallow and monoculture cereal cropping. The areas planted to crops such as canola, mustard, flax, field pea, chickpea and lentil expanded dramatically in recent years, often into new or non-traditional production areas. These changes in land use practices are expected to continue, and perhaps grow in future years. This study determines and compares the economic merits and relative riskiness (both production and market) of producing chickpea, field pea, lentil, mustard, canola, and flax with spring wheat, durum wheat or barley when grown on chemical fallow and zero-till stubble for various plausible product price scenarios. Field data collected at Swift Current, Scott and Congress were extended with use of a STELLA® model, to elucidate the short-term and the longer-term economic and environmental impacts of these newer cropping systems. Our findings indicate that under current market conditions, risk averse producers in the Brown soil zone would typically choose either a 4-year Fallow-Chickpea-Wheat-Wheat rotation or a 5-year Durum-Chickpea-Mustard-Wheat-Lentil rotation. In the Dark Brown soil zone, risk averse producers would choose a 4-year Canola-Wheat-Lentil- Wheat rotation.
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