Final report for ONC16-021

Replacing Summer Fallow with Grain-type Field Peas in Semiarid Cropping Systems: Sustainability and Agronomic Evaluation

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2016: $29,999.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Strahinja Stepanovic
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Project Information

Summary:

Grain-type field pea is short season legume crop that may be grown as a fallow alternative in wheat-fallow or wheat-corn-fallow rotations throughout the semiarid Great Plains. This project was designed to evaluate rotational costs and benefits of field pea and provide farmers with the ability and tools to make profitable decisions on whether to fallow or grow field peas.

At Field Pea Production Workshop at Culbertson (11/04/2016), 85% of surveyed participants (92 attended) from NE, KS, WY, and CO reported likely to adopt field peas in their crop rotations and 92% reported to be likely to adopt field peas management strategies. These survey results largely correlate to the increase in total NE field pea planted acres from 34,000 ac to 55,000 ac over the past 3 years (2015-2017), especially in southwest and central NE where field pea research and extension programing was conducted. According to our research results, such changes in cropping systems of simiarid western NE (replacing fallow with field peas) will result in the enhanced cropping system water use efficiency, biodiversity, soil health and profitability.

This project facilitated the expansion of federal crop insurance for field peas in five southwest NE counties and provided opportunities for new businesses, jobs and the overall improvement of NE state economy. Since 2014, number of certified seed dealers increased from two to seven and NE become home for three field pea processing facilities including New Alliance (Bridgeport, NE), Gavilon (Hastings, NE), and Redwood Group (Venango, NE). In addition, Farmer Business Network (FBN), Puris brand (Oskaloosa, IA), and Grain Place Foods (Marquette, NE) also provided direct field pea marketing opportunities for NE farmers.

As a result of this project, field peas became an established crop in southwest NE and we built a foundation for successful and long-term field peas (and pulse) industry development across the state.

 

Project Objectives:

Objective 1: To compare impact of field peas vs summer fallow on water use, soil infiltration rates, soil fertility, biodiversity, yield of succeeding wheat crop and profitability.

Objective 2: To determine optimal seeding placement, inoculant types, seeding rates and herbicide programs to grow field peas

Objective 3: To select highest yielding (grain and protein) grain-type field pea varieties across the semiarid environments of NC region

Objective 4: To develop comprehensive simulation model with detailed economic analysis to help farmers make profitable decision on whether to summer fallow or grow field peas

Objective 5: To disseminate research results through field days, extension and peer-reviewed publications.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Chuck Burr
  • Julie Peterson
  • Dipak Santra

Research

Materials and methods:

Objective 1: To compare impact of field peas vs summer fallow on water use, soil infiltration rates, soil fertility, biodiversity, yield of succeeding wheat crop and profitability.

This two-year rotation study was conducted on a cooperators’ field located in Chase County near Enders, NE from March-2015 until July-2016. The field site has been historically operated under no-till in a wheat-corn-fallow rotation with Blackwood loam as the predominant soil type and averages 18 inches of annual precipitation. The strip trial was set as pairwise (side-by-side) comparison of field peas versus summer fallow with 8 replications (total of 16 strips evaluated, each being 60 ft × 2,650 ft long). Several sustainability and profitability parameters will be measured including:

  1. Water use (soil moisture sensors)
  2. Yield effect on succeeding winter wheat crop
  3. Soil nutrient cycling (several soil samples throughout the year)
  4. Soil infiltration rates (NRCS soil infiltration test)
  5. Beneficial soil microbial community (Solvita soil test and qualitative lab analysis)
  6. Beneficial insects (pitfall traps and sweep nets)
  7. Profitability (farmers reported crop production inputs)

 

Objective 2: To determine optimal seeding placement, inoculant types, seeding rates and herbicide programs to grow field peas

Four separate field studies (1) seeding depth, (2) rhizobia inoculant, (3) seeding rate, and (4) herbicide efficacy study were conducted in 2015 and 2016 under established no-till systems at five different sites in Perkins County, NE, USA. The field sites had Rosebud loam and Mace silt loam as a predominant soil type and average 18 inches of annual precipitation. Field pea grain yield response to seeding depths (1, 2, and 3 inches), inoculation with Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae (with and without rhizobia inoculant), and seeding rates (140k, 200k, 260k, 300k, 360k, 420k, and 480k plants m-2) was investigated. Seeding depth and rhizobia inoculant study were planted at two sites in 2016 using a small plot equipment, whereas seeding rate study was conducted using a large farm equipment at one site in 2015 and two sites in 2016.

The herbicide study included evaluation of eight PRE-emergence and eight POST-emergence herbicides on visual weed control (0-100% scale, 0 being no weed control) of broadleaf and grass weeds commonly found in field peas as well as on crop safety (1-10 scale, 1 being safest).

 

Objective 3: To select highest yielding (grain and protein) grain-type field pea varieties across the semiarid environments of NC region

The field peas variety testing studies included comparison of up to 25 varieties at seven locations across Nebraska Panhandle and southwest: Scotts Bluff County irrigated and dryland, Box Butte County dryland, Cheyenne County dryland, Lincoln County dryland, Perkins County dryland, and Webster County dryland. The field pea varieties were planted using a small plot equipment and replicated at least three times. At each location, we collected data on yield (listed according to rank), test weight, information on flowering and plant height at harvest, and other information about the growing season and production practices.

 

Objective 4: To develop comprehensive simulation model with detailed economic analysis to help farmers make profitable decision on whether to summer fallow or grow field peas

The economic simulation model was designed to assist farmers in western NE to play with numbers and explore the profitability of different dryland crop rotations. The values we provided for production inputs and crop yield for economic model were based on 2018 Nebraska Crop Budgets for dryland crops including: corn (after wheat), corn (after corn), wheat (after fallow), wheat (after field peas), and field peas. The grain prices were based on the grain prices at local delivery points in Perkins Co in February, 2018. Replacing fallow with field peas will cause yield penalty in succeeding wheat crop, and that is the key input variable in this economic model. Each farmer, depending on his soil, farming practices, rainfall, etc. should figure out what this penalty is and plug in his/her number for accurate profitability estimation.

 

Objective 5: To disseminate research results through field days, extension and peer-reviewed publications.

We disseminated research results through: (1) Field Pea Field Days at Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center at Grant, NE on 06/15/2016; (2) Field Pea Production Workshop at Culbertson, NE on 11/04/2016; (3) Publishing articles in local and regional newspapers; (4) Twitter activity; (5) Publishing timely recommendations on growing field peas through UNL’s extension e-news (Crop Watch); (6) Publishing peer-review journal articles; (7) Radio and television interviews.

Research results and discussion:

Objective 1: To compare impact of field peas vs summer fallow on water use, soil infiltration rates, soil fertility, biodiversity, yield of succeeding wheat crop and profitability.

Field peas have potential to be used as an alternative to no-till summer fallow in wheat-fallow and wheat-corn-fallow rotations to increase sustainability of crop production systems in western Nebraska. Our results showed that replacing fallow with field peas can: (1) provide more efficient cropping system water use (i.e. higher efficiency in converting available soil water and seasonal precipitation into crop yield/biomass); (2) improve soil water infiltration; (3) increase soil microbial activity and provide habitat for a greater number of beneficial microorganisms and insects; and (4) be more profitable than no-till summer fallow.

The tradeoffs of replacing fallow with field peas in semiarid climates of western NE are associated with field pea water use and soil water depletion in top 3-4 foot, which may causes yield penalty in the succeeding winter wheat crop (18 bu/ac in this study). This yield penalty in succeeding wheat crop will vary from farm to farm depending on the soil type (e.g. soil water holding capacity), precipitation patterns in farmer’s geography and crop management (e.g. tillage, residue removal, planting date, etc.). We recommend beginning field pea farmers to grow the crop on smaller acres and carefully examine what this “yield drag” is in their operation. This will allow them to gain experience of growing the crop, making adjustments in their management strategies, and ultimately make an informative decision on whether to fallow or plant field peas.

You my access the full report by downloading the attachment (Field-Pea-vs-Fallow-Rotation-Study) or by visiting our Field Pea Planting and Production Resource page, link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/field-pea-planting-and-production-resources

 

Objective 2: To determine optimal seeding placement, inoculant types, seeding rates and herbicide programs to grow field peas

Seeding depth recommendations. We observed no significant difference in yield between three seeding depths (Table 2). We recommend placing the seeds 1 to 3 inches deep where there is moisture and good seed-to-soil contact can be obtained.    

Inoculant recommendations. Yield differences between inoculated and non-inoculated field pea were not observed. However, non-inoculated field peas did not produce nodules and had to rely solely on residual soil nitrogen rather than biological fixation. Therefore, we recommend using inoculant at planting until more research is conducted to evaluate field pea nitrogen uptake and inoculation needs.

Seeding rate recommendations. We found that the most profitable field peas plant population was 220,000 plants/ac. Although these results are showing the potential for reduction in field pea population (compared to recommended 350,000 plants/ac) without lowering profits, we have observed better weed suppression, faster and more uniform dry down and more efficient harvest at plant populations > 350,000 plants/ac. Current recommendations for field pea seeding rates range from 180 to 200 lb/ac and we recommend using these seeding rates until further research completed and results validated.

The complete analysis of our research results on field pea response to seeding rate, depth, and inoculant in west-central NE has been submitted and accepted for publishing in the Agronomy Journal. You may access the abbreviated report on these studies by downloading the attachment (Field-peas-seeding-rates-seeding-depth-and-inoculant) by visiting our Field Pea Planting and Production Resource page, link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/field-pea-planting-and-production-resources

Herbicide recommendations. Results of our herbicide studies were incorporated into a larger dataset of statewide field pea herbicide evaluation program and published in University of Nebraska’s 2017 and 2018 Weed, Insect, and Disease Management Guide. We also published Field peas – A Guide to Herbicide Carryover and Herbicide Efficacy that you access either by downloading the attachment or by visiting our Field Pea Planting and Production Resource page, link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/field-pea-planting-and-production-resources

 

Objective 3: To select highest yielding (grain and protein) grain-type field pea varieties across the semiarid environments of NC region

The field pea variety testing trials consisted of seven research plots with up to 25 varieties at each location. Locations included Scotts Bluff County irrigated and dryland, Box Butte County dryland, Cheyenne County dryland, Lincoln County dryland, Perkins County dryland, and Webster County dryland. We have generated valuable information for each variety at each site including yield (listed according to rank), test weight, information on flowering and plant height at harvest, and other information about the growing season and production practices at each location.

Discussion of our field pea variety trials has been published in a Crop Watch article, link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2017/2017-field-pea-variety-trial-results. To access results at location nearest to you visit: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/varietytest/othercrops. We are starting to generate 2-year and 3-year yield averages for some field pea varieties. As we will continue to conduct field peas variety testing across Nebraska long-term data will soon be available to public.

 

Objective 4: To develop comprehensive simulation model with detailed economic analysis to help farmers make profitable decision on whether to summer fallow or grow field peas

We developed an Excel simulation model that allows farmers to compare profitability of multiple rotational scenarios with and without field peas. The simulation model has been presented at Field Pea Production Workshop and sent to individuals that requested it. To download this simulation model click here Economic model for dryland crop rotations western Nebraska or visit: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/economic-model-dryland-crop-rotations-western-nebraska

 

Objective 5: To disseminate research results through field days, extension and peer-reviewed publications.

We disseminated our research results through: (1) Wheat and Field Pea Plot Tour, Stumpf Wheat Center, Grant, 06/15/2016, link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2016/wheat-and-field-peas-plot-tour-june-15-near-grant ; (2) Field Pea Production Workshop, Culbertson, NE, 11/04/2016, link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2016/field-pea-production-workshop-nov-4 ; (3) Twitter activity @agwithstrahinja; (4) Radio and television interviews: (5) Publishing field pea production information in local and regional newspapers, extension e-news (Crop Watch), and in peer-reviewed journal articles.

 

Participation Summary
4 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

300 Consultations
6 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Journal articles
3 On-farm demonstrations
30 Published press articles, newsletters
1 Tours
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

2 Farmers
13 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

List of Extension and Outreach activities:

  1. Wheat and Field Pea Plot Tour, Stumpf Wheat Center, Grant, June 15-2016
  2. Field Pea Production Workshop, Culbertson, NE, Nov 11-2016
  3. Twitter activity @agwithstrahinja
  4. Radio and television interviews:
    1. 2 KRVN Interviews on field peas
    2. 1 High Plains radio interview
    3. 4 news releases in Nebraska Farmer and 1 Nebraska Farmer radio podcast
    4. 3 news releases in No-till Farmer
    5. 3 Pure Nebraska TV Interviews
  5. Field pea market and production information – Crop Watch Factsheets (6 total):
    1. Replacing Summer Fallow with Grain-type Field Peas: New Markets, New Opportunities (collaborative article between K-state, CSU, and Nebraska Extension)
    2. Field peas production: Rotational costs and benefits
    3. Field peas seeding rates, seeding depth and inoculant
    4. Yellow field peas fare well after recent lows
    5. Field pea variety testing page 
    6. Economic model for dryland crop rotations in western NE
  6. Invited presentations:
    1. Field peas and grazing cover crops field day at Jim Campbel’s farm near Kearney, NE on Sep 20, 2017.
    2. US Dry Pea and Lentil Trade Association meeting in Palm Springs, CA on Sep 27-29, 2017. Invite to participate in discussion of pulse crop industry development in NE.
    3. Farmers Business Network (FBN) annual conference “Farmer 2 Farmer” at Omaha, NE on Dec 13-15, 2017 – Invite to participate on field peas panel discussion. FBN later utilized UNL resources to recommend field pea production practices to hundreds of farmers in their network.
    4. Kansas Rural Center annual conference at Manhattan, KS on Nov 17-18, 2017

 

Learning Outcomes

222 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key changes:
  • WHEAT AND FIELD PEAS FIELD DAY AT GRANT, NE (JUN. 15, 2016):
    - Attendance and representation: 130 people attended, 42 surveyed individuals, 27258 acres directly farmed 2,328,900 acres represented.
    - Knowledge gained: 95% moderate to significant increase in knowledge about rotational cost and benefits of field peas and field pea production information
    - Anticipated behavior change: 89% reported to be likely change their behavior.
    - Value of the program: 87% relevancy of topics was good to excellent, $15/ac estimated value of knowledge gained, 79% rated educational experience as above average and one of the best.
    - Testimonials: “Good variety of complimentary info”; “Try peas”; “Famer Panel was great”; “Very timely and informative”; “Great presentations”; “Was an excellent program – Please do more than one year”.

  • FIELD PEA PRODUCTION WORKSHOP AT CULBERTSON, NE (NOV. 04, 2016):
    - Attendance and representation: 92 people attended, 42 surveyed individuals, 19,000 acres directly farmed, and 1,880,100 acres represented.
    - Knowledge gained: 77 % moderate to significant increase in knowledge about rotational costs and benefits field peas, 92 % reported moderate to significant improvement in ability to make informative decision on whether to plant field peas or fallow, 96 % individuals found data on field pea varieties, seeding rate, seeding depth, inoculant, and herbicide to be useful and very useful.
    - Anticipated behavior change: 85 % reported to be likely to adopt field pea crop in their rotation, 92 % reported to be likely to adopt field peas management strategies
    - Value of the program: 98 % reported for this educational program to be above average and one of the best, $30/ac estimated value of knowledge gained.

  • REGIONAL IMPACT:
    - Dietrich Kastens (Kansas farmer) on Twitter: ”@agwithstrahinja Fantastic #pea meeting today! Great job! Give me a call if you ever need another on-farm research collaborator.”
    - Kim Manning (Agronomist from Wyoming): “Thank you for a very informative and useful workshop last Friday. I have other sales reps in my area that are anticipating me passing on the information from the workshop as well.”
    - Emily Paul, Sales Representative for Pulse USA, North Dakota: “This is an excellent article – wow! You all did a wonderful job in putting it together, and you are making a big impact for the future of field peas in that area. Your work is not going unnoticed, and we are very proud to work with each and every one of you. You are all making a significant impact on the future of agriculture; hats off to you! Take care, and thank you for all you do!

Project Outcomes

200 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
2 Grants received that built upon this project
20 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

At Field Pea Production Workshop at Culbertson (Nov. 04, 2016), 85% of surveyed participants (92 attended) from NE, KS, WY, and CO reported likely to adopt field peas in their crop rotations and 92% reported to be likely to adopt field peas management strategies. These survey results largely correlate to the increase in total NE field pea planted acres from 34,000 ac to 55,000 ac over the past 3 years (2015-2017), especially in southwest and central NE where field pea research and extension programing was conducted (Table 1). According to our research results, replacing fallow with field peas will result in the enhanced cropping system water use efficiency, biodiversity, soil health and profitability. This project also facilitated the expansion of federal crop insurance for field peas in five southwest NE counties in 2018, and provided NE farmers with additional risk management options for growing field peas. 

Table 1. Field pea planted acres in NE by district (Data obtained from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service)

District Field pea planted acres (2015) Field pea planted acres (2017)
NE Panhandle 23,506 28,864
Southwest NE 9,050 21,079
Central NE 1,433 4,498
Eastern NE 6 525
TOTAL acres 33,995 54,966

From the broader social and economic standpoint, this project facilitated the development of pulse crop industry in NE providing opportunities for new businesses, jobs and the overall improvement of NE state economy. Since 2014, number of certified seed dealers increased from two to seven and NE become home for three field pea processing facilities including New Alliance (Bridgeport, NE), Gavilon (Hastings, NE), and Redwood Group (Venango, NE). In addition, Farmer Business Network (FBN), Puris brand (Oskaloosa, IA), and Grain Place Foods (Marquette, NE) also provided direct field pea marketing opportunities for NE farmers.

Success stories:

See project outcomes.

Recommendations:

First, we are very grateful to SARE for recognizing the needs of farmers in western (semiarid) NE for alternative cropping systems and alternative crop marketing opportunities. Second, funding came in timely, which enabled us to engage with group of farmers, conduct the research on their farms and teach others about growing field peas and its benefits in the semiarid cropping systems. These factors were very critical for two reasons:

  1. We were able to gather valuable, locally-conducted, research-based information before larger adoption of field peas, and prevented often sloppy and unsuccessful production of field peas.
  2. Success stories facilitated larger adoption of field peas in the area and increased competition between seed industries, food processors and other direct marketing agencies that provide inputs and production contract services to farmers.

Although publishing peer-review articles does not directly benefit farmer, it certainly benefited our institution to receive recognition for research done on field peas. This will surely help us obtain more funding and keep working on improving the sustainable agricultural production in NE. We currently have many follow up projects on field peas, and two out of three research proposal we submitted in past year got funded… and we believe third proposal will be funded as well.

Thank you sooooo much NCR SARE for your relentless support and setting us up for the success in future.

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.