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Angie Peltier


Angie Peltier
Former Extension Educator, Commercial Agriculture



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Hill and Furrow

Current topics about crop production in Western Illinois, including field crops research at the NWIARDC in Monmouth.
Figure. 2011 fall tillage operations have exposed soil in a corn field at the NWIARDC.
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Crop rotation, tillage and yields


In 1996, the NWIARDC established a long-term crop rotation and tillage study (Figure). Crop rotations included various combinations of corn, soybean and wheat including: continuous corn, continuous soybean, corn/soybean, soybean-wheat-corn, and wheat-soybean-corn. Large rotation plots are split into different tillage treatments: fall tillage and no-tillage (Figure). Yield, moisture and test weight data is collected from the center rows of each plot using a plot combine.

Dr. Emerson Nafziger, the U of I Agronomist that initiated and continues this agronomic research, recently summarized results of this experiment for the 4 year period from 2008 through 2011. Commodity prices, fuel prices, long-term soil health and many other individual factors will likely inform your planting and tillage decisions. However, the data presented below will illustrate how yields measure up under different rotations and tillage regimes.

Corn. Corn grown after soybean yielded 15 bu/A, or 8 percent more, than continuous corn (Table 1). Tillage seemed to benefit corn yields under each rotation, with yield differences ranging between 7 bu/A more for continuous corn and 10 bu/A more under tillage for the soybean-wheat-corn rotation.

Soybean. Soybean grown after corn yielded 5.5 bu/A, or 6 percent more, on average than continuous soybean (Table 2), while soybean grown after corn and wheat had the highest yields (76.4 bu/A). Conventionally till and no-till soybean yields were essentially the same for continuous soybean and soybean rotated with corn, while yields of soybean grown in rotation with corn and wheat seemed to benefit from tillage.

Wheat. Wheat yields in a three crop rotation sequence are summarized in Table 3.

Table 1. Average corn yields (2008-2011) under different crop rotation and tillage systems

Rotation

Conventional Till

No-till

Avg.

Cont C

197.5

190.4

194.0

Corn-Soy

212.7

207.8

210.2

S-W-C

222.2

212.2

217.2

W-S-C

224.5

222.0

223.3

Avg

214.3

208.1

211.2

Table 2. Average soybean yield (2008-2011) under different crop rotation and tillage systems

Rotation

Conventional Till

No-till

Avg.

Cont Soy

66.2

66.3

66.3

Corn-Soy

71.7

70.1

70.9

W-C-S

75.3

72.3

73.8

C-W-S

76.4

72.0

74.2

Avg

72.4

70.2

71.3

Table 3. Average wheat yield (2008-2011) under different crop rotation and tillage systems

Rotation

Conventional Till

No-till

Avg.

C-S-W

77.1

74.6

75.8

S-C-W

70.9

62.2

66.6

Avg

74.0

68.4

71.2




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