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A Different Kind of Rotation

By Randy Simonson, Ph.D.
Technical Services Manager

In the corn belt, corn and soybean rotations are the norm. Sure, some farmers will rotate with alfalfa or wheat or another crop, but for the majority of corn belt growers its corn, soybeans, corn, soybeans, etc., etc.

A researcher from South Dakota, Dwayne Beck, has a new corn/soybean rotation. It is a corn, corn, soybeans, soybeans rotation. This rotation was developed for no-tillers and I found it in the March 2000 issue of No-Till Farmer.

The advantages of this type of rotation are more flexibility, fewer disease problems, reduced insect problems, lowers weed control costs, and it reduces the likelihood of producing weeds resistant to herbicides.

Here is how it works. First a normal corn variety is planted and a high rate of atrazine is applied for good weed control at a low price. The field is planted the second year to Liberty Link corn and Liberty is applied to clean up weed problems and atrazine carryover is avoided. In the third year, conventional soybeans are planted and sprayed with Pursuit or a similar herbicide. Finally, in the last year of the rotation Roundup Ready soybeans are planted and sprayed with Roundup to clean up any problem weeds.

Each herbicide is only being used once every four years so it reduces the likelihood of finding herbicide resistant weeds and there is little chance of herbicide carryover.

In Beck's research plots, first year soybeans yielded 66 bu/acre and second year soybeans yielded 80 bu/acre. The increased yield is thought to be due to increased nitrogen fixing rhizobia bacteria in the second year.

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