Final Report for ANC91-004

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1991: $0.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1994
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $63,000.00
ACE Funds: $63,000.00
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
David Klinkebiel
North Dakota State University
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Project Information

Summary:

[Note to online version: The report for this project includes tables and figures that could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact North Central SARE at (402) 472-7081 or ncrsare@unl.edu.]

In 1992, a project was initiated at the Carrington Research Extension Center-North Dakota State University near Carrington, ND, to study the influence three different cropping systems (Conventional, Integrated, and Biological) would have on production, economic cost and benefits, soil, and environmental integrity (pesticide and nitrate contamination) of a northern Great Plains shallow confined aquifer. A spring wheat, Triticum aestivum L. (1992) – sunflower, Helianthus annuus L. (1993) – fallow (1994) crop sequence was applied to each cropping system.

Ground-water recharge and solute movement were controlled primarily by climate and field microtopography, and not by management practices. Short-term differences between effects of conventional and biological farming practices on ground water quality appear to be minimal. During the first two years average annual nitrate-N concentrations in the vadose zone (2.1 m), in the saturated glacial till (4.0 m), and in a confined sand and gravel aquifer (6.0 m) did not differ significantly (p=0.05) between biological, conventional, and integrated farming methods. However, there were differences in nitrate-N concentrations between years in the saturated till and in the Carrington aquifer. In the saturated till nitrate-N concentrations for all treatments in 1993 (a year with precipitation more than 50% over annual average) were almost double (4.26 to 8.49 mg/L) the concentrations (1.9 to 3.03 mg/L) measured in the previous year, which was a dry year. In 1993 average nitrate-N concentration in the Carrington aquifer was approximately 2 mg/L, compared with a fraction of a mg/L in 1992 and in previous experiments at Carrington, however, the larger 1993 mean was caused by a few non- or sparsely-replicated large concentrations. Most measurements were still less than 1 mg/L throughout the experiment. In all cases, elevated nitrate-N concentrations were highly variable, sparsely replicated, and sporadic, indicating that nitrate movement was occurring primarily as localized preferential flow at all sites. In six pesticide sets (spring, mid summer and fall of 1992 and 1993) there were no plausible detection’s of pesticides under any of the treatments.

In 1993, cropping system treatment did have an affect on certain (available potassium, phosphorus, partially humified organic matter that is nitrogen, soil bulk density, soil organic matter content, and nitrate-N content) soil properties. Spring wheat yield and yield components were similar across the different cropping systems except for seed protein which was higher under the Conventional and Integrated cropping systems. Sunflower yields were similar under the Conventional and Integrated cropping systems. The Biological system resulted in a significantly lower yield than the other two systems. This was probably the result of low available nitrogen resulting from slow decomposition and mineralization of existing organic matter, since no additional nitrogen sources were added to the Biological system in 1993. Since cropping system treatments have only been applied for two years it is difficult to draw any final conclusion from the present results. Biological cropping systems usually take many years to reach a state of equilibrium, especially in the north where growing seasons are short.

Total costs of inputs applied to the soil plus cost of the field operations vary between the production systems for spring wheat and sunflower. The conventional spring wheat has the lowest cost per acre followed by the biological. With the sunflower the biological practices had the lowest total cost, followed by the conventional practices. The integrated practice system had the greatest total cost per acre for both spring wheat and oil sunflower.

Conventional production resulted in the greatest return to land, labor, and management for both spring wheat and oil sunflower production. The difference between returns from conventional and the other farm practices provides an indication of the differential created by the different management styles. Since these different management practices do not include costs or impacts on the environment or on the health of the laborers, there is an opportunity for determining a trade off between the returns and to the environmental and human impacts.

This study will be continued for the length of time necessary to determine the long-term effects of the Conventional, Integrated and Biological cropping systems.

Introduction:

In 1992 a project was initiated at the Carrington Research Extension Center-North Dakota State University near Carrington, ND, to study the influence of three different cropping systems on production, economic cost and benefits, soil, and environmental integrity (pesticide and nitrate contamination) of a northern Great Plains shallow aquifer. One of the cropping systems studied can be defined as a “Conventional” farming practice common to the central Northern Great Plains. The other two cropping systems are two different examples of “sustainable agricultural” systems. In the Northern Great Plains, two general philosophies seem to have developed concerning practices perceived as sustainable.

One philosophy, which will be defined as an “Integrated Input” approach, perceives that sustainability can be achieved if purchased inputs are more selective and are used more timely, efficiently, and economically. Coupling these practices with methods to reduce soil erosion and decrease environmental degradation results in a combined approach that is broadly described as “sustainable”. These ideas are promoted by movements such as operation S.A.V.E. (Sustainable Agriculture that’s Voluntary and Economical) or HITSA (High-Technology Sustainable Agriculture). The other philosophy, described as a “Biological” cropping system, perceives that long term economic and environmental sustainability can be achieved with greater use of non-purchased inputs. Virtually all inputs, except fuel and the raw products it takes to power and build the needed machinery, are supplied Biologically. By properly selecting crops and rotations, soil fertility renewal and pests are Biologically managed, thereby reducing or eliminating the need to buy purchased inputs. This idea is being promoted by organizations like the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.

Project Objectives:

1. To examine the influence a “Conventional”, “Integrated Input”, and “Biological” cropping system would have on pesticide and nitrate contamination of a shallow confined aquifer. Current assessment of environmental risk is based on general groundwater surveys, or on risk assessment models and indices that rely on simplified environmental and climatic assumptions such as steady water flow, or “annual average” infiltration rate. While such indices provide reasonable overviews of comparative risk, they would tend to misrepresent contamination processes in environments characterized by infrequent large precipitation events or by complex recycling of soil water. Because of concern over safe water supplies, more site specific information is needed to determine the effects of cropping system, landscape, climate, and management practices on the contamination of ground water.

2. Evaluate the potential of each cropping system to maintain effective long term sustainable crop production. Since the beginning of the sustainable agricultural movement, industry, universities, professional and farm organizations, and producers have attempted to define the role of sustainable agriculture and the course that sustainability should take. This objective will evaluate the agronomic components of sustainable cropping systems, and compare it with a Conventional practice.

3. Determine and compare long term economic stability of each of the cropping systems, based on costs and returns of production and environmental integrity. Enterprise budgets will be developed that will specifically compare the variable costs and resulting returns to management for each cropping system.

4. Involve producers in the decision process on cropping system practices. A panel of farmers was assembled to aid in the decision processes of this study. This allowed producers to get involved with the project and reduced the bias that might be entered by the principal investigators.

5. Establish a experimental location in the state that combines basic ground-water studies and agricultural management experiments. The Carrington Research Extension Center is a natural location for this project because of its hydrologic setting (overlying a shallow confined aquifer, Figures 1 and 2) and its history of applied agriculture research and the ability to provide practical and useful information to farmers in the Northern Great Plains.

6. Continue this project long enough to evaluate the impacts of these cropping systems on farm profitability and soil and water conservation.

Research

Materials and methods:
Case Studies

Project soils (Heimdal) coarse loamy mixed Udic Haploboroll, were nearly level (less than 0.4% slope) and were of coarse loamy to loamy texture in the root zone. Beneath the root zone, vadose materials were of stoney fine loam to clay loam till. Water table was usually at about 4.0 m, but in some areas reached as high as 1.2 m from land surface during a wet year. All crop systems tested were non-irrigated. Average area precipitation is about 46 cm. One of the years tested (1993) was about 50% wetter than average. Management systems used consisted of biological (no pesticides, fertilizer from vegetative or animal matter only), conventional (practices currently commonly practices by Northern Great Plains farmers who practice high level management) and integrated (applying fertilizer and pesticides as needed). The rotation was wheat-sunflower-fallow. The following table describes the general philosophy behind each cropping system studied.

Research results and discussion:

1. To examine the influence a “Conventional”, “Integrated Input”, and “Biological” cropping system would have on pesticide and nitrate contamination of a shallow confined aquifer.

From an initial two-year comparison of ground water recharge and solute (nitrate, ammonium, and pesticide) movement on plots managed using biological, conventional, and integrated agronomic practices, under a wheat-sunflower-fallow rotation, both ground-water recharge and solute movement were controlled primarily by climate and field microtopography, and not by management practices. Short-term differences between effects of conventional and biological farming practices on ground water quality appear to be minimal.

During the first two years of a wheat-sunflower-fallow crop rotation, average annual nitrate-N concentrations in the vadose zone (2.1 m), in the saturated glacial till (4.0 m), and in a confined sand and gravel aquifer (6.0 m) did not differ significantly (p=0.05) between biological, conventional, and integrated farming methods. However, there were differences in nitrate-N concentrations between the two years in the saturated till and in the Carrington aquifer.

Vadose zone nitrate-N varied between 5 and 40 mg/L in both years (1992 and 1993) on all treatments (Table 1) and mean nitrate-N concentrations were similar between years. In the saturated till, nitrate-N concentrations for all treatments in 1993 (a year with precipitation more than 50% over annual average) were almost double (4.26 to 8.49 mg/L) the concentrations (1.9 to 3.03 mg/L) measured in the previous year, which was a dry year. In 1993, average nitrate-N concentration in the Carrington aquifer was approximately 2 mg/L, compared with a fraction of a mg/L in 1992 and in previous experiments at Carrington, however, the larger 1993 mean was caused by a few non- or sparsely-replicated large concentrations. Most measurements were still less than 1 mg/L throughout the experiment.

While overall means were similar, data dispersion and time of maximum nitrate-N concentrations did appear to vary between treatments, with largest concentrations and dispersions occurring late in summer on the biological treatment, and largest concentrations and dispersions occurring early in summer on the conventional treatment.

In 1992, nitrate-N concentrations at all sample depths were similar to background levels measured at similar depths in a previous five-year experiment. Nitrate-N concentrations in 1993 were similar to those previously measured only during brief periods of recharge to the water table. In all cases, elevated nitrate-N concentrations were highly variable, sparsely replicated, and sporadic, indicating that nitrate movement was occurring primarily as localized preferential flow at all sites.

Previous work indicates that preferential flow is dominated by microtopographically induced runoff to localized active recharge sites. Although not statistically significant because of variability, saturated till nitrate-N concentrations on the conventional treatment were nearly double those on the biological plots in 1993, and this difference corresponded with hydrologic indicators of substantially larger average local recharge on the conventional plots.

Ammonium-N concentrations did not vary with treatment, depth, or year, and varied only within the narrow range of 0.2 to 0.35 mg/L for all sampling times. There was a significant difference in treatment and time interaction in 1993, with slightly elevated ammonium-N being detected on the integrated plots in late summer (likely caused by mid-summer application of N).

There was no treatment related difference in any of the hydrologic parameters measured in 1992. These included evapotranspiration, root-zone drainage, deep drainage (at 228 cm), upflux from the water table to the vadose zone, and water extraction with depth. In 1993, there was a substantial, but non significant difference between indicators of recharge to the saturated till on the conventional sites (19.8 cm), compared with the biological sites (13.9 cm). Deep drainage on the integrated treatment (15.2 cm) was intermediate between conventional and biological treatment values.

In six pesticide sampling sets (spring, mid summer and fall of 1992 and 1993) there were no plausible detection’s of pesticides under any of the cropping system treatments.

For a more detailed description of the affect of cropping systems on ground water quality refer to the “Report of the Carrington SARE-ACE Experiment, 1992-1993: II. Affect of Agricultural Management Practices on Ground-Water Quality. W.M. Schuh, D.L. Klinkebiel, and B.D. Seelig”.

2. Evaluate the potential of each cropping system to maintain effective long term sustainable crop production.

Most initial soil properties (1992) were similar among the different cropping systems. This would be expected since the previous cropping system had been fairly uniform across the site prior to the experiment.

In 1993, available potassium, available phosphorus, and total phosphorus increased in the 0-7.5 cm soil layer on all treatments. Available potassium and available phosphorus in 1993 were all significantly (p=0.05) larger on the Biological system than on the Conventional and Integrated systems. Total phosphorus was greater on the Biological system in 1993, but the difference between the Biological system and Conventional and Integrated systems was not significant (p=0.05). Larger potassium and phosphorus can be attributed to large amounts of manure applied to the biological plots in the spring of 1992.

At greater depths (15-60 cm), available and total phosphorus was larger for all cropping systems in 1993, compared with 1992. However, in 1993, available and total phosphorus were significantly larger (p=0.05) on the Conventional and Integrated systems than the Biological system. The difference may have been caused by inorganic phosphorus in starter fertilizer applied in 1992 on the Conventional and Integrated systems, and slow mineralization of manure phosphorus on the Biological system, under the cool wet conditions of 1993.

Although there was no significant difference (p=0.05) between soil bulk densities of different cropping systems at 7.5-15 cm in 1992, the initial mean bulk density of the Biological system was somewhat higher (1.41 g cm-3) than the other two treatments (1.27 g cm-3). In 1993 bulk density at 7.5-15 cm was significantly (p=0.05) less under than the Integrated system than the Conventional and Biological cropping system. However, if the change from the initial (1992) mean is compared, the increase for the Conventional system alone (+0.21 g cm-3) would be larger than that for the Integrated system (+0.12 g cm-3). The change for the Biological system, which began with a larger initial bulk density, was similar (+0.10 g cm-3) to that of the Integrated system. Larger compaction on the Conventional system was probably the result of late row cultivation’s being performed when the soil was fairly moist, resulting in this layer being compacted in the Conventional and Biological plots.

Initial mean soil aggregate stability (1992) was nearly identical for all cropping systems. Though not significantly different (p=0.05), aggregate stability in 1993 increased slightly in the Integrated plots, along with a higher fraction of soil aggregates in the 1-0.5 mm size. This is the result of the non destructive treatment of the soil structure through the use of no-till practices in the Integrated plots as compared to the Conventional and Biological.

Soil organic matter content in 1993 was similar between Conventional and Biological systems and significantly (p=0.05) higher than the Integrated system at the 7.5-15 cm depth. Organic matter was also higher in the Conventional and Biological plots at the 0-7.5 cm depth as compared with the Integrated plots, though not significantly (p=0.50) different. However, if the change in organic matter from the initial 1992 value is examined, the significance of the 1993 apparent systematic difference is less clear. From 1992 to 1993 the mean increase in organic matter on the Conventional and Integrated systems were actually larger than for the Biological system on which manure was applied. Clearly this experiment has been run for an insufficient time to delineate systematic differences in soil carbon dynamics.

Percent partially humified organic matter (PHOM) was highest on the Conventional and Integrated systems in 1993, though not significantly different. However, the results supported by changes from 1992 to 1993 do not indicate a relative increase in PHOM on the Biological plot. As with organic matter, occurrence and detection of changes in PHOM would be expected to be a long-term phenomenon. The amount of PHOM that is nitrogen was significantly (p=0.05) higher under the Biological system. This can be associated with the application of manure to the Biological system plots.

The climate in 1992 was cool and dry. Under the Biological system, after the manure was applied in the spring of 1992, nitrate-N levels in the soil increased slowly until about late May, and then diminished over time. Ammonium-N levels remained fairly steady throughout the 1992 season with a slight increase in the later part of the season. This is a common pattern when organic sources of N are applied to the soil. N is mineralized from organic sources to ammonium, then converted to nitrate by nitrifying bacteria. On the Conventional and Integrated systems, nitrates increased substantially in late May directly after application, and then gradually declined with crop use. Ammonium was fairly constant except for a brief period of increase in late May.

The climate in 1993 was cool and wet. Ammonium-N mineralized the previous year on the Biological system appears to have nitrified early in the season as the soil began to warm. As the season progressed nitrate was used by the crop. All three cropping systems had maximum soil nitrate in early June, and then declined. Maximum soil nitrate-N on the Conventional system was more than double that of the biological. Maximum soil nitrate on the Integrated system was about a third larger than the Biological. Final total soil N for all systems in 1993 was about 20 kg ha-1 for nitrate, and about 10 kg ha-1 for ammonium.

Initial soil samples were taken in the fall of 1991 to measure soil nitrate to a depth of 2.7 m (9 feet). Nitrate was detected at depths below normal rooting zones. Nitrate accumulation below the root zone varied. Uneven nitrate accumulation is probably the result of variability in active and non-active recharge sites which are caused by differences in soil microtopography. Microtopography is the small differences in soil surface elevation with differences usually less than a few centimeters. Active recharge sites are depressions in the soil surface which act as water collection sites during high rainfall activities. More water will move through the root zones transporting solutes such as nitrates to lower depths. This active and non-active recharge activity has been studied at an adjacent experimental site referred to as the RECHARGE study in part II of this report.

Spring wheat yield (Table 2) and yield components were similar between the different cropping systems except for seed protein. The Conventional and Integrated cropping systems resulted in similar (p=0.05), though higher seed proteins than was obtained with the Biological system. Available soil nitrogen was higher in the Conventional and Integrated systems than in the Biological system. Dry conditions and cool temperatures resulted in lowered mineralization of the manure that was applied to the Biological system during 1992. On July 21, the amount of nitrogen present in the stems of the Biological system was significantly less than the other systems. All other plant material nitrogen contents were similar. The lower level of nitrogen in the stem tissue likely resulted in less nitrogen being mobilized to the heads, resulting in the lower protein levels.

The 1993 growing season was extremely wet and cool in North Dakota, resulting in low sunflower yields. Similar sunflower yields (Table 2) were obtained under the Conventional and Integrated systems. Yields were lower with the Biological system (p=0.05). Lower yields were probably the result of less available nitrogen, since no additional nitrogen sources were added to the Biological system in 1993. It was assumed that there was enough residual nitrogen from the 1992 application of manure to supply the 1993 crop. Average sunflower plant height (p=0.01) and water use efficiency (p=0.05) was also significantly less under the Biological treatment when compared to the other systems. All other sunflower yield components were statistically similar among the cropping systems.
Since cropping system treatments have only been applied for two years it is difficult to draw any final conclusion from the present results. Biological cropping systems usually take many years to reach a state of equilibrium, especially in the north where biological systems work more slowly. The same could be concluded about the Integrated cropping system. This study will be continued for the length of time necessary to reach reasonable conclusions concerning the impacts of these cropping systems.

For a more detailed description of the affect of cropping systems on agronomic parameters refer to “Report of the Carrington SARE-ACE Experiment, 1992-1993: I. Influence of Agricultural Management Practices on Agronomic Parameters. D.L. Klinkebiel, W.M. Schuh, and B.D. Seelig”.

(3) Determine and compare long term economic stability of each of the cropping systems, based on costs and returns of production and environmental integrity.

It is important to remember that for any system to be sustainable, it is necessary for it to be economically viable and for it to compete in the market arena. Many farmers using each of the management practices in this study indicate they feel that they are operating in a sustainable manner.

During a two year study, weather has dramatic impacts and can provide an unreasonable advantage to a particular management alternative. The relative profitability of management alternatives are greatly impacted by location and weather in a particular year.

Agricultural policy including taxes, subsidies, and regulation greatly impact the profitability of individual crops and cropping techniques. Although the data is only for two years, the initial implications are presented by estimating the cost of production and calculating the break even price based upon the yields in this two year period. For the results to be meaningful, several more years are needed and the methodology presented in this study need to be maintained in a consistent manner over the period of the long term study. In this study no costs were calculated for any deleterious impacts on water quality or on soil quality beyond inclusion of nitrogen credits for changes between the beginning and ending of the crop years.

Conclusions regarding the crop management alternatives and the impact on water quality at this time are difficult. However, one may begin to analyze the initial profitability of and production cost differences between the alternative management systems.

The machinery complement used for the model farm assumes a farm operating between 1,400 and 1,600 tillable crop land acres. The biological practices had less field operations than the conventional or integrated practices on spring wheat and oil sunflower. The biological practice substituted spreading composted manure on the fields for a typical fertilizer spreader used in the conventional and integrated systems. The integrated practice substitutes an extra chemical spray for the chisel plow field operation. For oil sunflower the integrated practice had the fewest field operations. The oil sunflower field was worked with the field cultivator twice under the conventional practice. With the biological practice one of the field cultivation’s is substituted with a rotary hoe cultivation. The biological system did not have any nitrogen fertilizer applied prior to planting; however, a legume (sweet clover) is incorporated into the sunflowers during the last row crop cultivation.

Total costs of inputs applied to the soil plus cost of the field operations vary between the production systems for spring wheat and oil sunflower. The conventional spring wheat has the lowest cost per acre cost followed by the biological. With the oil sunflower the biological practices had the lowest total cost, followed by the conventional practices. The integrated practice system had the greatest total cost per acre for both spring wheat and oil sunflower.

The Conventional practice required the greatest amount of labor for wheat and oil sunflower. Integrated practices require the same amount of labor as biological for wheat but integrated requires much less labor for oil sunflower. Integrated requires less labor because the field spraying operations generally are much quicker than tillage operations.

Conventional production resulted in the greatest return to land, labor, and management for both spring wheat and oil sunflower production (Table 3). The difference between returns from conventional and the other farm practices provides an indication of the differential created by the different management styles. Since these different management practices do not include costs or impacts on the environment or on the health of the laborers, there is an opportunity for determining a trade off between the returns and to the environmental and human impacts.

Table 3. Returns to Land, Labor, and Management for Spring Wheat and Oil Sunflower by Management Practice
———————–Cropping System———-
Crop______Biological____Conventional____Integrated
___________$/acre_____$/acre________$/acre
Spring Wheat__36.88_____52.62________26.01
Oil Sunflower___0.76_____26.05_________2.05

Integrated wheat would require a 25 dollar per acre subsidy to be equal in returns to conventional wheat (Figure 7). At 40 bushels per acre this amounts to 63 cents per bushel subsidy. Biological wheat would require about a 15 dollar per acre subsidy (or 38 cents per bushel). The relationship changes with oil sunflowers in that biological sunflower would require a slightly larger subsidy than integrated to be equal to conventional sunflower. The required sunflower subsidy would range between 2 and 3 cents per pound. It is also possible to affect these practices with policy which directly addresses solving the problems associated with undesirable management practices with respect to the environment or human health. An alternative method is to tax inputs which are considered a concern. Several states, including Iowa, have introduced the concept of taxing herbicides and fertilizers to bring about a reduction in their use.

For a more detailed description of the affect of cropping systems on economic returns refer to “Report of the Carrington SARE-ACE Experiment, 1992-1993: III. Effect of Agricultural Management Practices on Returns. D.L. Watt, R.S. Sell, L.D. Stearns, and D.L. Klinkebiel”.

Research conclusions:

The greatest benefit of adoption of a biological cropping system is the reduction in chemical pesticides which are expensive and have the potential to leach into the shallow aquifer. In 1992 0.35 lbs. and 0.52 lbs. of pesticides per acre were applied to the conventional and integrated systems respectively. In 1993 2.0 lbs. of pesticides per acre were applied to each of the conventional and integrated cropping systems. Many methods of reducing pesticide applications without affecting yields are available to producers in the Northern Great Plains. It will take time before producers adopt some of these methods. In the Northern Great Plains, soil erosion from lack of proper residue cover is a major concern. This is usually the case following a crop such as sunflowers which leaves very little residue on the soil surface during the potentially high erosion periods of early spring. Sweetclover was interseeded in the sunflowers on the biological system which will continue to grow into the following fallow season adding cover for soil erosion protection and fixing nitrogen for the following crops.

round-water contamination need not be a matter of great concern for the conditions documented in this report. Management factors can be based on other factors. Ground-water monitoring and interpretive practices can be modified to accommodate cropping practices. For example, we would expect that greatest variability (and largest concentrations) of nitrate-N would appear in late summer under biological management, but earlier under conventional management. This knowledge should help in interpretation of limited ground-water data in assessing the likelihood and extent of aquifer contamination.

Overall, this study will need several more years to determine the systems full benefits or down falls.

New Hypotheses

* Long-term practice of biological farming practices will result in changes in soil “quality” which will enhance localized infiltration, minimize runoff to microtopographic low areas, and therefore decrease nitrate movement to the water table.

* Long-term use of pesticides will result in some eventual movement and detection of pesticides in ground water under conventional and integrated management practices, and not under biological management practices.

* Greater concentration of localized runoff under conventional management practices compared with integrated management practices, will eventually cause more detection’s of elevated nitrates and pesticides under conventional management than under integrated management in the long term.

It’s too early in the study to postulate any other hypotheses. The best hypotheses at this point is that more work needs to be done to develop and perfect sustainable systems that more farmers are willing to adopt and that will consistently return profits and improve the environment.

Economic Analysis

Refer to Project Results: Objective 3 and “Report of the Carrington SARE-ACE Experiment, 1992-1993: III. Effect of Agricultural Management Practices on Returns. D.L. Watt, R.S. Sell, L.D. Stearns, and D.L. Klinkebiel”.

Farmer Adoption

Changes in Practice

Farmers are slowly adopting more sustainable cropping systems, reducing pesticide applications, and adopting ways to conserve soil. This study has not been established long enough to allow farmers to adopt any new technologies or production methods.

Operational Recommendations

If a farmer is to adopt a biological system it will take time to build the proper nutrient cycles within the system and develop a good weed control scheme. Producers will have to be patient when switching to a biological system or just reducing their purchased inputs.

Farmer Evaluations/Testimonials

At this time everybody is waiting to see the results over several years of study before commenting on the results.

Producer Involvement:

Number of growers/producers in attendance at:
Workshops: 0
Conferences: 0
Field Days: 1992 Carrington Research Extension Annual Field Tour: 300
Other events: 0

On February 26, 1992 the five member farm panel consisting of Jim Fandrich, Roger Gussiass, Jim Harmon, Larry Lura, and Maurice Zink met with David Klinkebiel to discuss the appropriate treatments to apply to each type of cropping system. The results of this meeting can be seen in the time lines as shown in figures 3, 4, and 5.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Two newspaper articles have been published covering the instigation of this project. The first was published in the Jamestown Sun, Sun Country on Saturday, October 1991(attached). The Sun Country reaches a fairly wide audience in central North Dakota. The second newspaper article was published in the Foster County Independent which is a local Carrington area paper (attached).

Sun Country is planning to do a follow up report on the project. Two interim reports have been written and disseminated to various audiences (attached). The first report titled “Influence of cropping systems on the shallow Carrington aquifer” was written in the annual Carrington Research Extension Center 1992 Crop and Livestock Review (attached). This report is distributed to approximately 1800 farmers, seed producers, chemical sales and representatives, policy makers and various other audiences. A more lengthy report was written in the Carrington Research Extension Center 1990/92 Report of Progress as a special progress report (attached). This report is mostly distributed to approximately 200 administration, and policy makers. Another small article was written in the annual Carrington Research Extension Center 1993 Crop and Livestock Review titled “Influence of cropping systems on the shallow Carrington Aquifer” (attached).

The 1992 Field Tour held at the Carrington Research Extension Center, July 14, 1992, attracted over 300 producers and interested individuals. The Field Tours theme was “Building Quality Soils”. One of the tours available that day was titled “The Impact of Agriculture on Soil Quality”. Bruce Seelig and David Klinkebiel high lighted some of the findings in this study for approximately 150 producers and interested individuals. Bruce Seelig also ran a water-testing clinic in which water samples could be brought in for testing of nitrates and other properties.

Data on water quality projects in North Dakota have been compiled in a computer data base. At this time the data base includes only those projects that were completed or initiated after or during 1990. The system was designed to be updated on a annual basis. Information includes details about each project including a contact for further information. This information is presented as an Extension bulletin (see attached North Dakota Extension Service bulletin “Water Quality Projects in North Dakota”). The projects are organized by geographical region and topic.

An abstract has been submitted for American Society of Agronomy 1994 annual meeting at Seattle, Washington. A poster will be presented at this meeting titled “Cropping System Influence on Nitrogen Distribution in a Till Region”, D.L. Klinkebiel and W.M. Schuh. This poster will cover the results of the Carrington SARE-ACE experiment as it pertains to nitrogen.

A full technical report of project findings has been prepared and is submitted with this report (Report of the Carrington SARE-ACE Experiment, 1992-1993: I. Influence of Agricultural Management Practices on Agronomic Parameters. D.L. Klinkebiel, W.M. Schuh, and B.D. Seelig; II. Affect of Agricultural Management Practices on Ground-Water Quality. W.M. Schuh, D.L. Klinkebiel, and B. Seelig; III. Effect of Agricultural Management Practices on Returns. D.L. Watt, R.S. Sell, L.D. Stearns, and D.L. Klinkebiel.) These reports are available to anybody who wishes a copy with additional copies being sent to other agencies and individuals who would benefit from the results to date. Results will be rewritten and submitted to referred journals sometime within the next year.

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

More research needs to be done on improving soil quality and conserving what soil remains. Our soils and the soils ability to produce are eroding at an alarming rate. This trend needs to be reversed whether through research or simple education and government programs that stimulate adoption of more soil conserving and building methods.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.