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Can Novel Management Practice Improve Soil and Environmental Quality and Sustain Crop Yield Simultaneously?

Upendra M. Sainju
Plos One 2016 v.11 no.2 pp. e0149005
barley, conventional tillage, crop quality, crop rotation, environmental quality, fallow, global warming, grain yield, greenhouse gases, malting barley, nitrate nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, no-tillage, peas, soil, soil organic carbon, sustainable agriculture, Montana, North Dakota
Little is known about management practices that can simultaneously improve soil and environmental quality and sustain crop yields. The effect of a combination of tillage, crop rotation, and N fertilization on soil C and N, global warming potential (GWP), greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI), and malt barley yield and quality were examined from 2005 to 2011 in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. In both places, no-till barley-pea with N fertilization (NTB-P/N) increased soil organic C (SOC) and total N (STN) by 5-14%, but reduced residual soil NO3-N, GWP, and GHGI by 24 to 79% compared with the traditional practices (conventional till continuous barley or barley-fallow with N fertilization). Barley yield and quality were similar between the two practices. Novel management practices, such as NTB-P/N, can simultaneously enhance soil and environmental quality and sustain crop yield compared with traditional practices in the northern Great Plains.