North Dakota State University * Dickinson Research Extension Center
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This is a report of the Rotation and Tillage Trials conducted at the Dickinson Experiment Station in 1955.

The Dickinson Experiment Station is a branch station of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, and is under the supervision of Mr. Raymond J. Douglas, Superintendent.

The completion of the 1955 crop year marks the 49th year of continuous crop rotation and tillage investigations at this station. These trials have established the following facts regarding farming practices for southwestern North Dakota:

  1. Highest yields of small grain are obtained after fallow, followed closely by high yields on clean cornland. Corn should largely replace summer fallow on a combination livestock and grain farm since the corn can be utilized as feed. The value of the corn crop greatly exceeds the value of additional yields of small grains obtained from fallow over that obtained from cornland.
  2. Disking of small grain stubble in the spring in preparation for seeding the grain crop is a very undesirable practice and should be ruled out in southwestern North Dakota. Over a 45 year period, spring plowing in place of double disking stubble has resulted in a yield of wheat of approximately four bushels more per acre.
  3. Double disking of clean cornland, in preparation for seeding wheat, is very satisfactory. However, if the cornland is not clean, spring moldboard plowing is more desirable.
  4. Results obtained following a green manure crop do not justify the use of this practice in southwestern North Dakota.
  5. No significant yield differences have been found between common and plowless or trashy fallow. Due to the fact that plowless fallow helps prevent both wind and water erosion it is recommended over regular common fallow. Best results have been from fallow when the first operation began about May 15 and was completed not later than June 1.
  6. Perhaps the most successful rotation in this area is a three year rotation of wheat on clean cornland, disked; oats on spring-plowed wheat stubble, and corn on spring-plowed oat stubble. In this rotation, where barley is needed for feed, part of the oat acreage could be switched to barley without materially affecting the rotation.
  7. Four year rotations do not produce quite as high yields as three year rotations except three year rotations which include fallow.
  8. Five and six year rotations, or deferred rotations which include grasses or legumes, are good soil conserving or soil building practices which produce good yields and at the same time help maintain fertility of the soil. In the case of both the alfalfa and sweet clover, nitrogen and humus are added to the soil. In the case of crested wheatgrass or any other grass, humus is added to the soil and the fine roots bind the soil together and help prevent both wind and water erosion. A grass or legume in any of these rotations is very valuable from the standpoint of feed production in a mixed farming operation.

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