9-Year Rotation Curbs Weeds

When it comes to controlling weeds in a no-till cropping system, some No-Till Farmer readers may think Randy Anderson has gone to extremes. That’s because the Agricultural Research Service agronomist has come up with a 9-year rotation that features no-till and plenty of crop diversity.

As reported recently in Successful Farming, Anderson’s goal is to utilize a number of cultural practices that have been used for years to try and outsmart the weeds.

Warm-Season, Cool-Season

Stationed at the USDA North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D., Anderson says no-tilling both warm- and cool-season crops in the same rotation can eliminate many weed concerns. In addition, growers gain from the fact that most crops yield better when they show up less frequently in a no-till rotation.

As an example, studies in Anderson’s area have shown corn can yield 24% more when grown only once every 4 years rather than in a 2-year corn and soybean rotation. In addition, he says no-tillers can improve soil health by growing at least 3 years of a perennial forage, such as alfalfa, in their rotation. Plus, having 2 or 3 years of alfalfa will produce enough soil nitrogen to meet the fertility needs for up to 4 years for small grains with South Dakota conditions.

9 Years Of Crops

Anderson’s rotation starts with a cool-season seeding of alfalfa that lasts 3 years. This is followed by a year of corn and soybeans in a warm-season cropping program. Next an oat and pea mix is…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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