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,
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Results obtained following a green manure crop do not justify the use of this practice
in southwestern North Dakota.
- 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.
- 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.
- Four year rotations do not produce quite as high yields as three year rotations except
three year rotations which include fallow.
- 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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