Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Profitability of Various Corn, Soybean, Wheat, and Alfalfa Cropping Systems

Authors
item Singer, Jeremy
item Chase, C - IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Crop Management at www.cropmanagement.org
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 3, 2003
Publication Date: January 30, 2003
Citation: SINGER, J.W., CHASE, C.A., KARLEN, D.L. PROFITABILITY OF VARIOUS CORN, SOYBEAN, WHEAT, AND ALFALFA CROPPING SYSTEMS. CROP MANAGEMENT at www.cropmanagement.org. 2003. Available from: www.cropmanagement.org/doi:10.1094/CM-2003-0130-01-RS.

Interpretive Summary: Producers are frequently most interested in economic comparisons of various cropping systems. We compared continuous corn and continuous soybean with 2-, 3-, and 5-year rotations, the latter two including wheat and alfalfa, using either chisel plow or no-tillage practices. Crop yield and returns to land and management were evaluated. Yields for continuous corn were not different from those in rotation (corn-soybean, soybean-wheat/soybean-corn, or corn-soybean-alfalfa-alfalfa-alfalfa) for either tillage practice, but rotated corn had lower N inputs. Soybean yield in the 5-year rotation was greater than for continuous soybean in 2001 for both tillage practices, but in 2000, a tillage by rotation interaction resulted from severe crusting in continuous soybean that reduced stand density and lowered yield for the chisel plow treatment. Wheat and alfalfa yields were not affected by tillage practice. Using average annual crop prices, the 5-year rotation generated returns that were 100 and 158% higher than for corn-soybean using either no-tillage or chisel practices. This study confirms that producers who incorporate alfalfa into their crop rotations can significantly increase returns to land and management.

Technical Abstract: Producers are frequently most interested in economic comparisons of various cropping systems. We compared continuous corn (Zea mays L.) and continuous soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] with 2-, 3-, and 5-year rotations, the latter two including wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), using either chisel plow or no-tillage practices. Crop yield and returns to land and management were evaluated. Yields for continuous corn (C-C-C) were not different from those in rotation [corn-soybean (C-S), soybean-wheat/soybean-corn (S-W/S-C), or corn-soybean-alfalfa-alfalfa-alfalfa (C-S-A-A-A)] for either tillage practice, but rotated corn had lower N inputs. Soybean yield in the 5-year rotation was greater than for S-S-S in 2001 for both tillage practices, but in 2000, a tillage by rotation interaction resulted from severe crusting in S-S-S that reduced stand density and lowered yield for the chisel plow treatment. Wheat and alfalfa yields were not affected by tillage practice. Using average annual crop prices, the 5-year rotation generated returns that were 100 and 158% higher than for C-S using either no-tillage or chisel practices. This study confirms that producers who incorporate alfalfa into their crop rotations can significantly increase returns to land and management.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page