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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 87 No. 5, p. 958-964
    Received: July 25, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s): cizaurra@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca
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Crop and Nitrogen Yield in Legume-Based Rotations Practiced with Zero Tillage and Low-Input Methods

  1. R. C. Izaurralde ,
  2. M. Choudhary,
  3. N. G. Juma,
  4. W. B. McGill and
  5. L. Haderlein
  1. D ep. of Renewable Resources,, 4-42 Earth Sciences Bldg., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada
    A gric. and Agri-Food Canada, Brandon Res. Stn., Brandon, MB, Canada



Though legumes are beneficial in crop rotations, there is limited information on how tillage system-crop sequence interactions influence crop yield and N production. To see if biomass and N yields in short-term legume-based rotations under zero tillage (ZT) and low-input (LI) production methods can equal those in cereal monocultures under ZT and conventional tillage (CT), field experiments were conducted in Alberta, Canada, from 1989 to 1992 at EIlerslie (Typic Cryoboroll soil) and Breton (Typic Cryoboralf). Treatments at each site consisted of (i) two 4-yr rotations, each with the same crop sequence but different tillage methods, and (ii) four continuous barley treatments in 2 ✕ 2 factorial combination of tillage and fertilizer N. The crop sequence was barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)-barley and field pea (Pisum sativum L.) intercrop-barley-fababean (Vicia faba L.). At Ellerslie, tillage for weed control and seedbed preparation was either CT-LI or ZT. At Breton, one rotation used the LI approach; the second used deep tillage (DT). Weeds on CT and ZT were controlled with either pre- or postemergence herbicides. No herbicides were applied to LI treatments at either site or to the DT treatment at Breton. Yields of barley following legumes under ZT were similar to those of fertilized continuous barley. With nonchemical weed-control methods, weed competition reduced yields of barley following legumes by 24% compared with fertilized continuous barley. The increased fababean yield measured under DT was associated with improved rooting conditions and water extraction. The equivalent N-fertilizer value of legume residues with similar weed-control levels averaged 19 kg ha−1. Except for the LI system, legume-based rotations produced, over the 4-yr cycle, amounts of N equivalent to continuous cereal systems. Resource use efficiency of legume-based rotations, as measured by net-N yields, was equivalent to continuous systems at Breton, but somewhat reduced at Ellerslie.

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