Integrating perennial forage seed crops in the cropping systems in western Canada: An agroecological and economic assessment.
Khanal, N., Azooz, R., Lupwayi N., Otani1 J., Yoder, C. (2019) Integrating perennial forage seed crops in the cropping systems in western Canada: An agroecological and economic assessment. In Proceedings of Plant Canada 2019: Communicating Innovation in Plant Science, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; 7-10 July 2019.
Individual crops yield higher when alternated with unrelated species in cropping sequences than when grown continuously in the same field. Such yield benefits are attributed to various mechanisms including pest suppression, improved nutrient and water use efficiencies, changes in rhizosphere biology, allelopathy or soil structure. This presentation reports the results of a cropping sequence study involving perennial forage seed crops and annual food crops, conducted at Beaverlodge Research Farm in western Canada. Eight different crop sequences with three different levels of supplemental nitrogen were evaluated in terms of cropping systems productivity, relative profitability and changes in soil properties over four years. The results showed that forage seed crops can be integrated as profitable break crops in the annual cropping sequences with beneficial effects on soil properties. As the prices of forage seeds and food grains are major determinants of the profitability, prudent choice of cropping sequences can help stabilize farm income in the face of fluctuating market.