Crop Rotation and Tillage Effects on Corn Growth and Soil Structural Stability
Increasing concerns about soil degradation with continuous corn (Zea mays L.) production and a scarcity of scientific information regarding corn grown in rotation with the diversity of crops produced in Ontario, prompted a long term study on the effect of various crop rotations and their interaction with two tillage systems on corn growth and soil structure. Eight rotations were established in 1980 which included continuous corn, six rotations comprised of 2 yr of corn following 2 yr of another crop or crop sequence, and continuous alfalfa (Medicago sativo L.). Each rotation was divided into either conventional tillage (fall moldboard plow) or minimum tillage (fall chisel plow). First-year corn grown in rotation yielded 3.9% more than continuous corn for conventional tillage and 7.9% more than continuous corn for minimum tillage. These corn responses to rotation were smaller than most of those reported in the literature. When barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) or wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were the preceding crops, interseeding red clover (Triflium pratense L.) increased first year corn yields only on conventionally tilled plots. Corn plant development was consistently slower with minimum tillage compared to conventional tillage. Yields were significantly lower with minimum tillage for continuous corn and where corn followed wheat interseeded with red clover. Little or no response to rotation was observed in second-year corn. The seedbed with continuous corn had a lower proportion of fine aggregates compared to corn grown in rotation. In most years soil aggregate stability was highest under continuous alfalfa and including a legume (whether alfalfa or interseeded red clover) in the rotation improved aggregate stability compared to continuous corn.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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