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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 92 No. 3, p. 485-493
    Received: May 10, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): wjc3@cornell.edu
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Economics of Cropping Systems Featuring Different Rotations, Tillage, and Management

  1. Tawainga W. Katsvairo and
  2. William J. Cox *
  1. Dep. of Soil, Crop, and Atmospheric Sci., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA


Economics is the dominant factor influencing the adoption of cropping systems. The objective of this 6-yr study was to determine profitability of cropping systems featuring four crop rotations (continuous corn (Zea mays L.), soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]–corn, soybean–corn–corn, and soybean–wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)/red clover (Trifolium pratense L.)–corn), three tillage systems (moldboard, chisel, and ridge) and two management input (high and low chemical) systems. The soybean–corn rotation under low chemical management resulted in the greatest net returns in chisel ($100 ha−1) and moldboard plow tillage ($148 ha−1) because the reduction in production costs (∼$110 ha−1), associated with less fertilizer and pesticide costs in corn and less herbicide costs in soybeans, offset the reduction in gross returns ($72 ha−1 in chisel and $38 ha−1 in moldboard plow), associated with lower corn and soybean yields in chisel and lower corn yields in moldboard plow. Continuous corn under high chemical and soybean–corn–corn and soybean–corn rotations under low chemical management had similar net returns in ridge tillage ($33, $26, and $17 ha−1, respectively). Growers who substitute soybean–corn and soybean–corn–corn (in ridge) rotations for continuous corn can maximize profits and reduce starter fertilizer use by 33 to 50%, N fertilizer by 60 to 70%, herbicides by about 60%, and insecticides by 65 to 100%. Growers who use moldboard plow tillage may realize maximum profits by adopting the soybean–wheat/red clover–corn rotation under low chemical management if they market the wheat straw, a common practice in New York.

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