Assisting producers in evaluating and adjusting their cropping systems to maximize net returns from available resources is a responsibility of the extension agronomy program. Roger Ashley, area extension specialist/cropping systems along with cooperating county agents initiated demonstrations in eight counties to help producers evaluate the effectiveness of their current crop rotation for the control of root and crown disease in wheat. This particular program demonstrates the response of wheat in terms of grain yield, grain quality, nitrogen use efficiency, and rate of plant growth in an environment lacking extensive root and crown disease pressure similar to one we would expect if proper rotations were utilized. As part of a systems approach to improving the effectiveness and competitiveness of crop rotations, alternative crops to wheat and barley are being demonstrated at Amidon. Yield and quality of 18 crops will be taken and a projected dollar value per rotational acre will be calculated. In addition to extension work in cropping systems and alternative crops, forage demonstrations are being conducted in two counties. An alfalfa variety demonstration in cooperation with the Dunn County agent and the Dickinson Research Extension Center Manning Ranch measures yield and reports gross value of hay harvested to county extension agents and producers. This is the only alfalfa variety demonstration trial in southwest North Dakota. Annual forages are being demonstrated in Slope County. Cool season annual forages of cereal and cereal/pea intercrop will be harvested, yield calculated, quality measured and results reported to producers. Direct support to agronomy programs is provided to county agents in a 14 county area. In addition to demonstrations, presentations have been made to producers and agribusiness field representatives at field days, county crop improvement meetings, county program planning meetings, workshops, and seminars. Information developed by the DREC agronomist, Dr. Pat Carr, and extension agronomists is interpreted, and news releases and extension programming ideas are developed by Mr. Ashley.
Dr. Carr directs crop production research at the DREC. The DREC was recently identified as one of the principal research locations for malt barley cultivar selection in the region. It remains an important center for selection of spring wheat cultivars adapted to dry, cool regions of the Great Plains. For example, over 100 hard red spring wheat cultivars were evaluated at the DREC during this past year. Non-malting spring barley cultivars, as well as cultivars of spring oats, winter wheat, and winter rye, are also evaluated at the DREC on an annual basis, as are other cereal, pulse, and oilseed crops. In addition to the cultivar adaptation trials located at the DREC, Dr. Carr also directs similar experiments located near Beulah, Glen Ullin, and Hannover
Crop rotation experiments have been expanded at the DREC in recent years. Thus far, these experiments have focused on the effects of cultural practices, tillage, and crop sequence on the yield of wheat. Results of these experiments contradict long-held beliefs of many growers in this region of the state, and suggest that the economics of crop production can be improved if certain practices are changed. Plans are to expand the crop rotation trials to include additional economic and soil quality impacts of contrasting crop sequences, beginning in 1999.
Forage experiments grow in number and complexity at the DREC. Results of these experiments are being incorporated into recommendations made by NDSU faculty located on the main campus, and at other locations across the state. In some instances, recommendations are being changed because of the results of experiments conducted at the DREC. For example, recently published results of one experiment demonstrate the superiority of selected small grain varieties developed for forage production to those developed for grain production when both types are grown for forage. These results are noteworthy since similar data have not been generated and published previously in the state, after undergoing the rigors of scientific review. Until these results were published, a common belief persisted that small grain varieties developed for grain production were comparable to those developed for forage production when both types were grown for forage.
Small grain variety trials continue to be an important component of the research program at the Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC). For example, almost 90 hard red spring wheat varieties and experimental lines are included in adaptation trials at the DREC during the 1997-98 growing season. Additional small grain variety trials located at the DREC include: hard red winter wheat, winter rye, durum, spring barley, and spring oats. Small grain variety trials managed by scientists at the DREC also are located near Beulah, Glen Ullin, and Hannover.
Variety/hybrid trials of crops besides small grains are conducted at the DREC. Trials in 1998 exist for chickpea, corn, flax, field peas, lentil, mustard, and safflower. Canola and sunflower trials will be added to the list, beginning in 1999.
Pea varieties/hybrids are being compared for forage yield and quality, as are varieties/hybrids of barley, corn, lentil, millet, oat, sorghum, and triticale, and mixtures of barley-peas, oat-peas, triticale-peas, and oat-lentils. The optimum crop growth stage to harvest barley, oats, lentils, peas, and barley-peas, oat-peas, and oat-lentil mixtures, is being determined. The effect of N fertilizer on forage yield and quality of peas is being studied, as is the impact of seeding rate changes on alfalfa yield. A new trial will begin in 1999, where established forages like oats and alfalfa will be compared with clovers, medics, and other potential forages, at the DREC.
Crop Production Trials
An experiment is being conducted to determine if a pop-up or starter fertilizer should be applied with pea seed at planting. A separate experiment is underway to determine the optimum seeding rate for different pea varieties in southwestern North Dakota. Over 20 different herbicides or herbicide combinations are being evaluated for their efficacy in wheat.
Dr. Patrick Carr, Associate Agronomist
Roger Ashley, Extension Agronomist
Glenn Martin, Research Specialist
Tim Winch, Research Technician