Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Organic Corn: Increasing Rotation Complexity Increases Yields Substantially

Date:
June 1, 2008
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Researchers investigated the impact of increasing crop rotation length and complexity on crop yields in organic agricultural systems over a ten year period. They found that longer, more complex rotations using corn, soybean, wheat, and hay offered up to 30 percent greater corn yield than a simple corn-soybean rotation. The additional crop variety and rotation time helps provide adequate nitrogen and decrease weed competition, thereby increasing production.

Researchers investigated the impact of increasing crop rotation length and complexity on crop yields in organic agricultural systems over a ten year period. They found that longer, more complex rotations using corn, soybean, wheat, and hay offered up to 30 percent greater corn yield than a simple corn-soybean rotation.
Credit: iStockphoto/Tomas Bercic

Researchers investigated the impact of increasing crop rotation length and complexity on crop yields in organic agricultural systems over a ten year period. They found that longer, more complex rotations using corn, soybean, wheat, and hay offered up to 30 percent greater corn yield than a simple corn-soybean rotation. The additional crop variety and rotation time helps provide adequate nitrogen and decrease weed competition, thereby increasing production.

While demand for organic meat and milk is increasing by about 20% per year in the United States, almost all organic grain and forage to support these industries in the mid-Atlantic region is imported from other regions. To meet this demand locally, area farmers need information on expected crop yields and effective management options.

Scientists in the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Maryland have studied the impact of diverse organic cropping systems on crop yields over a ten year period.

The researchers collected data on crop yields, nitrogen inputs, weed densities, and crop populations from the USDA-ARS Beltsville Farming Systems Project (FSP), a long-term cropping systems trial with two conventional and three organic systems that was established in 1996. The three organic systems differed in crop rotation length and complexity.

The study revealed that corn and soybean yields in organic systems were, on average, 76 and 82%, respectively, of those in conventional systems in years with normal weather. Winter wheat yields were similar among systems. Corn yields were lower in the organic than in the conventional systems primarily due to lower nitrogen availability in the organic systems, which rely on legume crops and animal manures. Weed competition also contributed to lower corn grain yields in organic systems. For soybean, weed competition alone accounted for differences in yield between organic and conventional systems.

Among organic systems crop rotation length and complexity had a strong impact on corn grain yield. A crop rotation that included corn, soybean, wheat and hay resulted in average corn grain yield 30% greater than in a simple corn-soybean rotation and 10% greater than in a corn-soybean-wheat rotation. Differences were due to increased nitrogen availability and lowered weed competition with increasing crop rotation length and complexity. Crop rotation length and complexity did not affect soybean and wheat yields.

Dr. Michel Cavigelli, lead author of the study, stated, "These research results show that longer, more complex crop rotations can help address the two most important production challenges in organic grain crop production: providing adequate nitrogen for crop needs and decreasing weed competition." This research should help organic farmers and those considering transitioning to organic farming select crop rotations best suited for the mid-Atlantic region. Since the FSP is one of only a handful of long-term cropping systems trials that includes diverse organic crop rotations, these results will also be of interest to organic farmers and those working with organic farmers nationwide.

Ongoing research at the USDA-ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab at BARC is designed to increase soil nitrogen availability and decrease weed pressure in organic grain crop rotations.

The study was funded by USDA-ARS.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cavigelli, Michel A., Teasdale, John R., Conklin, Anne E. . Long-Term Agronomic Performance of Organic and Conventional Field Crops in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Agron J, 2008 100: 785-794 DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0373

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Organic Corn: Increasing Rotation Complexity Increases Yields Substantially." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528102904.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2008, June 1). Organic Corn: Increasing Rotation Complexity Increases Yields Substantially. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528102904.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Organic Corn: Increasing Rotation Complexity Increases Yields Substantially." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528102904.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins