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Comparison of strip cropping with field cropping management, Ridge till & strip cropping field days - final report

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Title: Comparison of strip cropping with field cropping management, Ridge till & strip cropping field days - final report
Author: Omielan, J.; McRae, S.; Samson, R.; Quinn, J.; Gasser, P. Y; Farmer Cooperators
Abstract: From 1993-1996, an on-farm participatory research project was conducted by the Ontario Ridge Till and Strip Crop Club in Southwestern and Eastern Ontario. The program assessed field versus strip crop management of corn and soybean systems and, in the final year of the project, corn and winter wheat systems. Strip cropping as practiced by the members of the Ontario Ridge Till and Strip Crop Club is a narrow strip intercropping system consisting of 3-6 corn rows with soybeans or winter wheat. The objective of these strip crop management systems is to increase crop productivity while at the same time conserving soil resources on the farm. In corn-soybean strip cropping trials, increased light interception by outside rows of corn resulted in yield increases on 3 out of 4 sites. These yield increase were largely confined to the outside rows. Where individual outside row yields were measured, increases of approximately 30% over inner rows, or field managed rows were observed Soybean yields under strip management systems were reduced on 5 out of 7 sites. Both variety selection and row orientation appeared to be important factors for minimizing yield losses in soybeans. On all of the sites where yield losses were recorded, corn and soybeans were planted in a north-south direction in 6-row strips. The average yield loss for this system was 14.7%. Individual row samplings in these plots clearly indicated that the majority of the yield loss in soybeans was a result of shading in rows adjacent to corn rows. Losses of approximately 30% were recorded in the westernmost row which was also etiolated and delayed in maturity as a result of excessive shading. The shading effect was less significant on the eastern side where yield losses averaged 13% in the outside row. Overall, yield losses in soybeans planted with a north-south orientation, particularly those in the Eastern Ontario studies, appeared to be too large to be compensated for by any potential corn yield increases. Better results were obtained with an east-west orientation as the shading effect is less prevalent. Tall soybean varieties and varieties susceptible to white mold should be avoided when strip cropping in order to reduce the impacts of shading. A strip management system for winter wheat and corn appears to be the most promising form of strip crop management evaluated during the four years of on-farm research. As in the case of corn, large increases in yield on the outside border rows (65% average increase) of winter wheat were responsible for increasing the wheat strip yield. The 3 row corn strip (with two out of three rows as border rows) was estimated to increase yields by 21% over field managed corn. When grown together in a strip cropping system, both crops appear to have the potential to reliably over yield which makes the system more attractive that the corn-soy system. From an agronomic and environmental standpoint, winter wheat appears to be an excellent strip crop companion for corn in that it completes its growth cycle well ahead of corn, is more compatible than soybeans with corn fertilizer and weed control programs, and is an extremely effective erosion control strategy. The benefits of this system are manifold, and further study into its effects could enable the widespread adoption of this conservation farming practice on farms.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/14969
Date: 1997
Rights: In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights Holder: Agriculture Canada


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