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Hayland conversion to wheat production in semiarid eastern Montana: tillage, yield and hay production comparisons

Aase, J.K. and Schaefer, G.M. and Pikul Jr, J.L. (1997) Hayland conversion to wheat production in semiarid eastern Montana: tillage, yield and hay production comparisons. Soil & Tillage Research. 44:225-234.

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When converting grass- and haylands to cultivated crop production, care must be taken to
conserve and maintain soil resources while considering economic issues. Methods of breaking sod
can have a bearing on erosivity, physical and chemical properties of soils, and cost of production.
Our objective was to compare three methods of converting crested wheatgrass [Agropyron
desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Schuh.] hayland to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production vs.
leaving the land for hay production. We initiated a study in 1990 on Dooley sandy loam
(fine-loamy, mixed Typic Argiboroll) near Froid in semiarid eastern Montana, USA. Plots,
replicated three times, were 12- by 30-m oriented east to west on a north-facing slope. We
converted sod to cultivated crop production by: (1) moldboard plow, (2) toolbar with sweeps, (3)
herbicides (no-till). Plots were fallowed until spring 1991 and then seeded to spring wheat each of
the next four years. All wheat plots were fertilized with 224 kg ha - I of 18-46-0 in 1991 and 1992,
and 34 kg ha-1 nitrogen as 34-0-0 in 1993 and 1994. Grass was either fertilized same as wheat or
not fertilized. Wheat yields averaged 2540 kg ha-1 on tilled treatments and 2674 kg ha-1 on
no-till. Fertilized grass consistently out-yielded unfertilized, and averaged 3.2 Mg ha-1 vs. 1.8
Mg ha-1. Toolbar with sweeps had highest economic return of US$169.48 ha-1 to pay for land,
labor, and management. Moldboard plow had US$162.05 ha-1 . Because of herbicide costs, no-till
only returned US$148.64 ha-1 . Unfertilized grass hay returned US$67.68 ha-1 and fertilized
grass hay, US$97.95 ha-1. Results may be tempered because our wheat yields were high: a 2016
kg ha-1 wheat yield would have returned the same as fertilized grass. Before converting grass- and
hay-lands to small grains production, consideration must be given to such variables as sod
conversion methods, management practices, labor requirements, market conditions, total precipitation
and its temporal distribution, soil conditions, growth environment, soil conservation, and

Item Type: Article
NWISRL Publication Number: 0961
Subjects: Irrigated crops > Small grain
Soil > Tillage
Mass Import - autoclassified (may be erroneous)
Depositing User: Dan Stieneke
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2010 21:54
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 18:43
Item ID: 693