Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Keeping yields, profits and water quality high

09.05.2008
Researchers investigate the potential of low-input farming systems to benefit both farmers and the environment

One of the key questions facing agriculturalists in the 21st century is how to produce adequate amounts of food and farm income while protecting environmental quality. Diversified, low-external-input (LEI) farming systems offer one possible approach for maintaining adequate productivity and profitability while reducing pollution by agrichemicals and still improving water quality. LEI systems rely heavily on ecological processes for soil fertility and pest management, but can include some use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

A team of investigators based at Iowa State University conducted a multiyear field experiment in Boone County, IA, to determine whether the yield, weed suppression, and profit characteristics of LEI systems can match or exceed those of a conventional system. Results from the study were published in the May-June 2008 issue of Agronomy Journal.

The experiment included a two-year, corn-soybean rotation, a three-year corn-soybean-small grain-red clover rotation, and a four-year corn-soybean-small grain-alfalfa-alfalfa rotation. Conventional rates of synthetic fertilizers were applied in the two-year rotation, whereas composted cattle manure and reduced rates of synthetic fertilizers were applied in the three- and four-year rotations. Weed management in the two-year rotation was based on conventional rates of herbicides, whereas in the three- and four-year systems, herbicides were applied in bands in corn and soybean, greater reliance was placed on cultivation, and no herbicides were applied in small grain and forage legume crops.

Over the period of 2003-2006, both synthetic Nitrogen fertilizer and herbicide use was lower in the three- and four-year LEI systems than in the two-year conventional system. Corn and soybean yields were as high or higher in the LEI systems as in the conventional system, and matched or exceeded average yields on commercial farms in Boone County. Further, lower herbicide inputs did not lead to increased weed problems. Without government subsidy payments, net returns were highest for the four-year LEI system, lowest for the three-year LEI system, and intermediate for the two-year conventional system. With subsidies, differences among systems in net returns were smaller, as subsidies favored the conventional system, but rank order of the systems was maintained.

“The results suggest that large reductions in agrichemical use can be compatible with high crop yields and profits,” says Dr. Matt Liebman, an agronomy professor at Iowa State University.

The project was supported by the USDA National Research Initiative (Biology of Weedy and Invasive Species Panel), and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University. The project is continuing with additional investigations of energy use, soil quality, and weed population dynamics. Additional economic analyses will be conducted to determine the impacts of rapidly changing crop prices and input costs.

Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.agronomy.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency
21.11.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Lightning, with a chance of antimatter

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

A huge hydrogen generator at the Earth's core-mantle boundary

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Scientists find why CP El Niño is harder to predict than EP El Niño

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>