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Productivity and Profitability of Four Crop Rotations under Limited Irrigation

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 36(1): 1-9. (doi: 10.13031/aea.13416) @2020
Authors:   Alan J Schlegel, Yared Assefa, Daniel O’Brien
Keywords:   Corn-sorghum-wheat, Crop rotation, Limited irrigation, Profitability, Supplementary irrigation, Sustainability.

Abstract. Selection of optimal crops and cropping systems for most efficient water use specific for local environments can improve global water security. Limited irrigation with ground water is one alternative to alleviate crops from low amount or unevenly distributed water in the growing seasons in semi-arid regions. The main objectives of this research were to quantify yield-water use relationships of three limited irrigated crops, determine effect of crop selection on profitability with limited irrigation, and identify profitable and alternative crop production systems. A field study was conducted at the Kansas State University Southwest Research-Extension Center near Tribune, Kansas, from 2012 through 2017. There were four treatments in the study, two 1-yr systems of continuous corn ( L.) (C-C) and continuous grain sorghum (L.) (GS-GS) and two 2-yr rotations of corn-grain sorghum (C-GS) and corn-winter wheat ( L.) (C-W). Overall corn yield after wheat (C-W) was about 1.4 Mg (ha)-1 greater than C-C. Corn and sorghum yields were similar grown as monoculture or in rotation with each other. Available soil water at corn planting and during the growing season were 20 to 40 mm (240 cm profile-1) less in the C-GS rotation compared with C-C and C-W rotations. Corn yield increased as water use (yield-water use) increased in C-W rotation but yield-water use relationships tended to be negative in C-C and C-GS rotations. Grain sorghum yield increased with water use in both rotations but at a greater rate in GS-GS compared with C-GS. Despite greater corn grain yield in C-W, our economic analysis showed that wheat was the least profitable of the three crops causing the C-W rotation to be least profitable. In this study, the most profitable limited irrigation crop rotation was corn-grain sorghum (C-GS).

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