NDSU Extension - Williams County


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Long Term Cropping Study - October 20, 2016

County Agent Update

Danielle Steinhoff


Long-term Cropping Study



Over in Carrington, the North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center has just released its results of a cropping systems study that started in 1987. The follow information is taken from the Carrington Research Extension Centers website and written by Ezra Aberle, Agronomy Research Specialist. The study consisted of three sets of 4-year crop rotations that are replicated three times each year. The eight cycle ended in 2015. This post discusses some of the effects of using composted beef manure on soil properties and selected crop yields. This study is located on a Heimdal silt loam soil, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service the Heimdal series consists of very deep, well drained, moderately permeable soils that formed in calcareous glacial till. Slope ranges from 0 to 40 percent. Mean annual air temperature is 40 degrees F and mean annual precipitation is 17 inches. In Williams County, most soils are part or similar to the Williams series which consists of very deep, well drained, moderately slow or slowly permeable soils formed in a calcareous glacial till. Slope ranges from 0 to 35 percent. Mean annual air temperature is about 40 degrees F, and mean annual precipitation is about 40 inches. The following information is for a soil type not found in our area, but still great information for those that add manure.

The plots are 180 ft. by 300 ft. so field scale equipment is used. The fertilizer treatments are: (1) urea broadcast applied each spring to all plots, except field peas and soybeans, at 0, 50, 100 or 150 pounds of Nitrogen per acre and (2) composted beef feedlot manure applied once at 200 pounds of Nitrogen the first year of each 4-ear cycle. These treatments are imposed in strips perpendicular to the three tillage systems: conventional, minimal tillage, and no till resulting in 12 sub-plots within each crop. The plots are soil sampled every year and phosphorous and sulfur were blanket applied to all non-manure plots when they fell out of the medium test range. Composted manure plots have significantly higher soil organic matter content. As you might expect, the increase in soil organic matter is due to the additional carbon compounds provided in the composted manure. Along with higher organic matter, these plots have significantly higher soil pH. Chemical reactions in the soil as the urea changed into available forms of Nitrogen increase the acidity of soil (lower the pH). Compost beef feedlot manure is an excellent economical fertilizer if available. Crop yields are equal to and some times greater than equivalent amounts of commercial nitrogen fertilizer. For this information and more of this study such as tillage and economics, check out the Carrington Research Extension Center website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/carringtonREC.


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