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Simulating Dryland Water Availability and Spring Wheat Production under Various Management Practices in the Northern Great Plains

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

Citation:  2012 Dallas, Texas, July 29 - August 1, 2012  121338471.(doi:10.13031/2013.41917)
Authors:   Zhiming Qi, Patricia N.S Bartling, Jalal D Jabro, Andrew W Lenssen, William M Iversen, Lajpat R Ahuja, Liwang Ma, Brett L Allen, Robert G Evans
Keywords:   RZWQM2, spring wheat, Great Plains, tillage, planting date, planting density, fallow

Agricultural system models are useful tools to synthesize field experimental data and to extrapolate the results to longer periods of weather and other cropping systems. The objectives of this study were: 1) to quantify the effects of crop management practices and tillage on soil water and spring wheat production in a continuous spring wheat system using RZWQM2 model under a dryland condition, and 2) to extend the results to longer term weather conditions and alternate cropping systems and management practices. Measured soil water content, crop yield, and total above ground biomass under different tillage and plant management practices were used to calibrate and validate the RZWQM2 model. The model showed inevident impacts of tillage and significant reduction in grain yield and biomass under late planting, in agreement with observed differences among treatments. The hydrologic analysis under long-term climate variability showed a large water deficit (32.3 cm) for the spring wheat crop; Fallowing the dryland every other year conserved 4.2 cm water for the following wheat year, of which only 1.7 cm water was taken up by wheat, resulting in a yield increase of 249 kg ha-1 (13.7%). However, the annualized average total yield decreased 782 kg ha-1 (43.1%) due to one year fallow; thus the spring wheat-fallow rotation was not economical. Other long-term simulations showed that optimal planting dates ranged from March 1 to April 10, and the seeding rate with optimum economic return was 3.71 and 3.95 106 seeds ha-1 for conventional and ecological management treatments, respectively.

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