Economics of conventional and conservation practices for irrigated dry bean rotations in southern Alberta

Citation

Khakbazan, M., Larney, F.J., Huang, J., Mohr, R.M., Pearson, D.C., Blackshaw, R.E. (2017). Economics of conventional and conservation practices for irrigated dry bean rotations in southern Alberta, 109(2), 576-587. http://dx.doi.org/10.2134/agronj2016.08.0480

Plain language summary

Conventional (CONV) potato production in Alberta has relied on high levels of soil disturbance which may result in long-term degradation of soil resources. A 12-yr (2000-2011) study was conducted to address issues with the CONV system and to evaluate the effects of conservation (CONS) practices on the economics of irrigated potato production. Potato was grown in 3- to 6-yr rotations which included dry bean, sugar beet, soft wheat, oat and timothy. CONS included reduced tillage, cover crops, compost addition, and solid-seeded bean. Averaged over 12-yr, potato yields for 4-yr CONV rotations (potato–wheat–beet–bean) were lower than those for CONS systems. However, the decreased costs associated with not using compost in 4-yr CONV offset the loss in yield, thereby resulting in an overall net income higher than that of CONS systems.

Abstract

© 2017 by the American Society of Agronomy 5585 Guilford Road, Madison, WI 53711 USA All rights reserved. Given the tripling of irrigated dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production in Alberta and interest in conservation (CONS) practices to improve production sustainability, a 12-yr study was conducted to evaluate the economic effects of CONS rotations. Dry bean was grown in 3- to 6-yr CONS and conventional (CONV) rotations, which included potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.), soft wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), oat (Avena sativa L.), and timothy (Phleum pratense L.). Conservation methods included solid-seeded narrow-row bean, cover crops, reduced tillage, and compost application. The 12-yr results showed that average differences among dry bean yields in CONV and CONS rotations were marginal; however, the net income (NI) of bean in CONV rotations was higher than bean crops in CONS rotations, mainly due to greater seed expenditures for bean in CONS practices. The 12-yr findings showed NI of CONV practices was CAN$122 ha-1 higher than CONS. Risk efficiency analysis showed CONV was preferred over CONS. The 4-yr CONV (potato-wheat-sugar beet-bean) was the preferred rotation. In the last 2 yr of study, bean yield and NI in CONS rotations were significantly higher than bean in CONV due to the undercutting of bean in CONS rotations; therefore, it is possible that the long-term use of undercutting practices may result in a greater adoption preference for CONS management over that of CONV systems.