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Dryland Malt Barley Yields and Quality Affected by Tillage, Cropping Sequence, and Nitrogen Fertilization

Upendra M. Sainju, Andrew W. Lenssen, Joy L. Barsotti
Agronomy journal 2013 v.105 no.2 pp. 329-340
Hordeum vulgare, Pisum sativum, application rate, biomass production, continuous cropping, conventional tillage, crop quality, crop rotation, cropping sequence, cultivars, fallow, grain yield, grains, leaching, leaves, malt, malting barley, nitrogen fertilizers, no-tillage, nutrient uptake, nutrient use efficiency, protein content, proteins, soil erosion, soil organic matter, split application, stems, Great Plains region, Montana
Malt barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) yield and quality have been evaluated using various cultivars and N rates but little is known about the effects of tillage and cropping sequence. We evaluated the effects of tillage, cropping sequence, and N fertilization on dryland malt barley yield, grain characteristics, N uptake, and N use-efficiency from 2006 to 2011 in eastern Montana. Treatments were no-till continuous malt barley (NTCB), no-till malt barley–pea (Pisum sativum L.) (NTB–P), no-till malt barley–fallow (NTB–F), and conventional till malt barley–fallow (CTB–F), with split application of N rates (0,40, 80, and 120 kg N ha–1) in randomized complete block with three replications. As N rates increased, malt barley grain yield, protein concentration, and N uptake increased in NTB–F, NTB–P, and NTCB, but test weight, plumpness, and N-use efficiency decreased in all tillage and cropping sequence treatments. Similarly, plant stand, biomass (stems and leaves) yield, and N uptake increased with increased N rates. Grain and biomass yields, N uptake, and N-use efficiency were greater in CTB–F than in NTB–P and NTCB but tillage had no effect on these parameters. Malt barley yield and N uptake varied with cropping sequences and N rates among years. Although grain yield increased with increased N rates, NTB–P with N rates between 40 and 80 kg N ha−1 may be used to sustain dryland malt barley yield and quality (protein concentration < 135 g kg−1, plumpness > 800 g kg−1), thereby helping to reduce the potentials for soil erosion and N leaching and increase soil organic matter in the northern Great Plains.