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Biology Articles » Agriculture » Plant Production » Corn Yield Stability Varies With Rotations, Fertility
Understanding temporal variability in crop yields has implications for
sustainable crop production, particularly since greater fluxes in crop
yields are projected with global climate change.
Many long-term cropping system studies have compared average crop
yields; this study looked at stability of yields and whether cropping
systems and manure applications affected crop yields differently in
poor- and high- yielding years.
K.K. Grover et al. investigated the effects of long-term cropping
systems on corn grain yields, yield trends, and yield stability over
the last 16 years of a long-term fertility and cropping systems
experiment at the Pennsylvania State University.
This study suggests that on average in a productive Central
Pennsylvania soil, the yield of corn rotated with alfalfa, red clover,
and timothy is modestly higher and less variable than corn grown
exclusively. Further, when dairy manure is applied to meet crop
nitrogen requirements, continuous corn can perform equally well to the
rotated in high-yielding years, but performs poorly in low-yielding
years such as dry summers and wet springs.
When synthetic fertilizers or phosphorus-based manure are applied,
however, continuous corn may yield less than rotated corn in low- and
high-yielding years. Further research is needed to evaluate the
economic returns of these cropping systems.
The research was funded by the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.
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