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Performance of conventional and alternative cropping systems in cryoboreal subhumid central Alberta

  • R. C. Izaurralde (a1), N. G. Juma (a1), W. B. McGill (a1), D. S. Chanasyk (a1), S. Pawluk (a1) and M. J. Dudas (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2009

A 3-year field study (1986–88) was conducted in central Alberta to discover how diverse soil-plant systems function under cryoboreal subhumid conditions. Barley, fescue, faba (field) bean and a barley/field pea intercrop were grown continuously on different soils at Ellerslie and Breton using two distinct tillage methods. The agronomic performance, weed-crop interactions and below-ground productivity of these cropping systems were examined. The main findings were as follows: different soil properties did not affect yields of barley, barley/field pea and fescue fertilized with N and P; silage yield of faba bean at Breton was greater than at Ellerslie; barley/field pea and faba bean could be grown without tillage at Ellerslie; barley/field pea plots had the lowest weed counts; fescue root biomass was greatest at all depths followed by faba bean and barley; and soil properties appeared not to induce differences in root production of a cereal, an annual forage legume and a perennial grass. Increasing the use of annual legumes into rotations, either as sole crops or as intercrops with cereals, may be a viable alternative to continuous cereal cropping because annual legumes contribute N through biological N fixation, reduce weed competition and increase the input of root mass in soil.

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G. D. Dinwoodie & N. G. Juma (1988). Allocation and microbial utilization of C in two soils cropped to barley. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 68, 495505.

M. Liebman & R. H. Robichaux (1990). Competition by barley and pea against mustard: effects on resource acquisition, photosynthesis and yield. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 31, 155172.

A. J. M. Smucker , S. L. McBurney & S. K. Srivastava (1982). Quantitative separation of roots from compacted soil profiles by the hydropneumatic elutriation system. Agronomy Journal 74, 500503.

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  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
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