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When you see the number of no-till acres growing significantly in areas outside the Corn Belt, one of the interesting things is the complexity of many rotations. No-tillers in other areas of the country are getting more crops into their rotations and are making them work.
At the same time, it’s been difficult to convince many Corn Belt no-tillers to grow more than soybeans and corn. Even so, a University of Minnesota researcher says the standard corn and soybean rotations followed by a majority of farmers is starting to fail.
“A traditional corn and soybean rotation is easy to follow and has been economically and agronomically sound,” says Paul Porter, a researcher at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton, Minn.
Porter maintains this rotation is starting to fail as pest problems from weeds, diseases and insects change and many pesticides appear not to be as effective in the past. In addition, he sees both the environment and rural communities being adversely affected by extensive reliance by many farmers on corn and soybean rotations.
Porter maintains that including alfalfa and oats in a four-year rotation offers several advantages. There’s a positive yield effect from longer rotations due to the availability of nutrients and soil moisture. Pest problems are also reduced as different crops disturb the cycle of weeds, insects and diseases which often become more of a problem when simply rotating corn and soybeans every year.
Another university researcher agrees. “In spite of all the…