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Agronomy Journal Abstract - ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Economics of Alternative No-Till Spring Crop Rotations in Washington's Wheat–Fallow Region


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 96 No. 1, p. 154-158
    Received: Jan 6, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): dlyoung@wsu.edu
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  1. Louis A. Juergensa,
  2. Douglas L. Young *a,
  3. William F. Schillingerb and
  4. Herbert R. Hinmana
  1. a Dep. of Agric. and Resour. Econ., Hulbert Hall 101, Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA 99164-6210
    b Dep. of Crop and Soil Sci., Washington State Univ., Dryland Res. Stn., Lind, WA 99341


Winter wheat [Triticum aestivum L.] (WW)–summer fallow (SF) is the dominant cropping system in the low-precipitation (<300 mm annual) region of the inland Pacific Northwest (PNW), USA. Intensive tillage during SF often leaves soil vulnerable to wind erosion. While no-till cropping is well known for wind erosion control benefits, previous research in the inland PNW showed that annual no-till hard red spring wheat (HRSW) trailed WW–SF in profitability by $113 ha−1 yr−1 Our objective was to assess the agronomic and economic feasibility of alternative no-till spring grain and oilseed rotations in a 5-yr experiment near Ritzville, WA. Spring crops were soft white wheat (SW), barley [Hordeum vulgare L.] (SB) yellow mustard [Brassica hirta Moench] (YM), and safflower [Carthamus tinctorius L.] (SAF) grown in three rotation sequences. Net returns from WW–SF on 10 neighboring farms during the 5-yr period averaged $21.52 ha−1 yr−1 The most profitable no-till spring cropping sequence was continuous SW, which averaged net returns of $12.11 ha−1 yr−1, equivalent to WW–SF and much more competitive than previous HRSW results. No-till SW–SB and a 4-yr rotation of SAF–YM–SW–SW averaged −$12.10 and −$31.45 ha−1 yr−1, respectively. Although all no-till spring crop rotations had higher annual income variability than WW–SF, positive net returns for continuous SW is the first economic good news for continuous annual cropping using no-till in the low-precipitation region of the inland PNW.

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