Research and Demonstration of Minimum Tillage and Optimum Water Management in Sugarbeet Production in Eastern Montana

Final report for SW16-051

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2016: $247,410.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Chengci Chen
Montana State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Montana ranks 6th in the nation in sugarbeet production. The sugar industry in eastern Montana (and western North Dakota) contributes substantially to the regional economy. Specifically, Sidney Sugars, Inc. in eastern Montana, employed an equivalent of 186 full-time workers and the industry indirectly supported an additional 805 full-time equivalent jobs in the two-state region. Thus, sustaining sugarbeet production and conservation of soil and water are very important to the society in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. In this project, we addressed three major concerns associated with sugarbeet production, including conservation tillage, proper irrigation, and nitrogen management in Montana, North Dakota, and other sugarbeet production areas. The specific objectives of this project were to: research on strip tillage or no-till for sugarbeet production, and optimize irrigation management and develop a canopy-sensor-based N management approach for sugarbeet. Field experiments were conducted in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 at the Eastern Agricultural Research Center (EARC) located in Sidney, MT and cooperating farms including: Experiment 1, tillage and nitrogen management (2016, 2017, and 2018); Experiment 2, optimization of irrigation management (2016 and 2018); Experiment 3, development of a sensor-based nitrogen management system for sugarbeet (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019); and Experiment 4, on-farm no-till demonstration and foliar application of nutrients (2018 and 2019). Results presented in this report show that no-till sugarbeet can produce the same or better root yield, sucrose concentration, and extractible sugar yield with less production costs compared with conventional tillage.

Project Objectives:

OBJECTIVE 1: Research on strip tillage and no-till for sugarbeet production (to compare yield and quality of sugarbeet under strip tillage and no-till with conventional tillage)

OBJECTIVE 2: Optimize irrigation management and develop a canopy-sensor-based N management approach for sugarbeet

OBJECTIVE 3: Increase awareness of the growers about the importance of conservation tillage and optimum N and water management

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Timothy Fine (Educator)
  • Dr. Reza Kesharvarz Afshar (Researcher)
  • Duane Peters (Educator)
  • Dr. Bart Stevens (Educator and Researcher)
  • Dr. Abdelaziz Nilahyane (Researcher)
  • Don Steinbeisser, jr - Producer (Educator)
  • Jeff Jorgerson - Producer
  • Dana Berwick - Producer
  • Dr. Apurba Sutradhar (Educator and Researcher)

Research

Hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1: Strip-till and no-till sugarbeet can produce similar yield and sucrose concentration as conventional tillage.

Hypothesis 2: Water and nitrogen application rates need to be optimized while shifting from conventional tillage to strip-till and no-till. 

Materials and methods:

Field experiments were conducted at EARC irrigated farm located in Sidney MT and cooperating farms to evaluate the performance of sugarbeet under strip tillage and no-till compared to conventional tillage. Field experiments were conducted in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 including 1) tillage and nitrogen rate study in 2016, 2017, and 2018, 2) irrigation amount and scheduling study in 2016 and 2018, 3) sensor-based nitrogen management study in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, and 4) on-farm no-till demonstration and foliar application of nutrients in 2018 and 2019.  

For the tillage and nitrogen rate study, the experiments were conducted in a split-plot arrangement based on a randomized complete block design with four replications. Main plots were tillage systems (conventional tillage or CT, strip-till or ST, no-till or NT). Sub-plots were nitrogen rate (56, 112, 168, and 224 kg nitrogen per ha supplied with urea 46-0-0). The previous crop was spring wheat and its chaff and straw were uniformly spread after combine harvest. Conventional tillage was comprised of deep ripping, followed by three passes of mulch packing.  Strip tillage was performed with specialized equipment described in details by Evans et al. (2009). In NT plots, seeds were sown directly into wheat stubble without any seedbed preparation.

Sugarbeet was planted in early May at a rate of 12 seeds/m2 (14 cm between plants and 61 cm between rows). Because sprinkler irrigation system was used and no irrigation furrows are needed, sugarbeet in all tillage treatments were flat‐planted (no ridges created) with a no-till planter. Nitrogen fertilizers were broadcasted on the soil surface of each plot by hand in the spring before 1st irrigation. All plots also received an equal amount of phosphorus (25 kg/ha P2O5) and potassium (40 kg/ha K2O). Roundup was applied at a rate of 3.89 L a.i./ha for weed control. One application of Minerva-Duo fungicide was also used to control fungal disease.

For the irrigation amount and scheduling study, the experiment was conducted in split-plot arrangement based on a randomized complete block design with four replications. Main plots were irrigation cutoff time (last irrigation 15 days before harvest vs. 30 days before harvest). Subplots were irrigation levels (irrigation based on 100% crop evapotranspiration [ET 100], 66% crop evapotranspiration [ET 66], and 33% crop evapotranspiration [ET 33]). Crop evapotranspiration was calculated on a daily basis according to the modified FAO Penman-Monteith method. Based on the amount of irrigation water applied in each treatment and root yield and extractable sucrose yield, Irrigation Water Use Efficiency (IWUE) was calculated.

For the sensor-based nitrogen management study, the experiments were conducted in Sidney MT in 2016 and 2017. Twenty-nine varieties of sugarbeet were planted in a randomized complete block design at 9 replications (total of 261 plots). In 2018 and 2019, the NDVI was recorded in the fertility trials. Plots were sensed using an optical handheld crop sensor (Greenseeker) at 4-growth stages including V4-V6; V8-V10; V10; and V12.The NDVI (based on red and near-infrared wavelengths) for each plot was recorded. Based on the NDVI data, the in-season estimate of yield (INSEY) was calculated.

For the on-farm no-till demonstration and foliar-application of nutrients, the demonstration plots were set up at two locations on Don Steinbeisser jr and Jeff Jorgersen farms in 2018, and at three locations on Dana Berwick, Don Steinbeisser jr, and Jeff Jorgersen farms in 2019.  The no-till sugarbeet were planted on Don Steinbeisser jr and Jeff Jorgersen farms in 2018, and on Dana Berwick and Don Steinbeisser jr farms in 2019. Subplots were set up and micronutrients and other plant growth enhancement products were applied on sugarbeet leaf canopy in 2019 at Dana Berwick, Don Steinbeisser jr, and Jeff Jorgersen farms.

Aboveground biomass at harvest, crop stand, root yield, sucrose concentration, impurity value, sugar loss to molasses (SLM), and extractible sucrose yield were measured in all trials. 

Field days and crop tours were organized each year at the Eastern Agricultural Research Center during the project period. In addition, two workshops were organized on August 7, 2017 and June 25, 2019. Sugarbeet growers in the region were invited to tour the research and demonstration plots and the researchers presented the timely research results to the growers during the tours.

 

Research results and discussion:

Experiment 1. Tillage and nitrogen management

Analysis of variance showed that year had a highly significant effect on all measured variables, but no Year × Tillage and Year × Nitrogen interactions were observed. The greatest sugarbeet stand population (78,363 plants ha-1) and the highest root yield (97.3 ton ha-1) were obtained in 2017 which were significantly greater than the plant population and yield in 2016 and 2018 (Table 1). Nevertheless, the least sucrose concentration in the root (16.5%) was also recorded in this year. As a result, gross sucrose yield was significantly higher in 2017 (16,066 kg ha-1) than in the other two years. Among the root impurities, the concentration of amino-N in 2017 was notably lower than that in 2016 and 2018. Consensually, Impurity Value and SLM were also lower in that year. The greatest extractible sucrose yield was also obtained in 2017 (15,283 kg ha-1).

Sugarbeet plant stand, root yield, and root impurity values did not significantly differ among tillage systems. This happened regardless of the year or level of N applied. As shown in Table 1, root yield in ST and NT was about 7% greater than that in CT (averaged over years and N levels) despite fewer plant stands per ha in the ST and NT treatments. However, this yield superiority was not statistically significant. Sucrose concentration was the only variable that was significantly affected by tillage. The average sucrose concentration in CT was 17.3%, which is only slightly higher than 17.2 and 16.9% under NT and ST, respectively (Table 1). This variation in sucrose concentration was not large enough to cause a notable change in gross sucrose yield. No differences were found among three tillage systems in term of root impurities, thus no significant difference was found among them regarding Impurity Value and/or SLM. Consequently, all three tillage systems produced similar extractible sucrose yield (Table 1).

Nitrogen rate showed a significant effect on root yield, sucrose concentration, amino-N concentration, Impurity Value, and SLM. Response trend of root yield and sucrose concentration to increasing rate of N in the range of 56-224 kg ha-1 were opposite (Table 1). While root yield linearly increased (y=4.9081X+63.718; R2= 0.9917), sucrose concentration linearly declined in response to increasing N rate (y= -0.273x+17.861; R2= 0.8166). Amino-N concentration, Impurity Value, and SLM also linearly increased when N rate increased (Table 1). Response trend to N rate was consistent among tillage systems as shown by the nonsignificant interactions of N by tillage. A journal article has been published in Soil and Tillage Journal in 2019 based on this study.

Table 1: Main effect of year, tillage, and nitrogen rate on sugarbeet measured variables.

Experimental factor

Plant stand
per ha

Root yield
ton ha-1

Sucrose concentration
%

Gross sucrose yield
kg ha-1

Recoverable
sucrose yield
kg ha-1

Sodium

Potassium

Amino-N

Impurity
Value

SLM
%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concentration in juice (mg L-1)

 

 

Year

2016

57282b

63.4c

17.4a

11168c

10540c

26.3b

230.2a

17.8a

0.66a

0.98a

 

2017

78363a

97.3a

16.6b

16066a

15283a

26.0b

198.5b

9.7b

0.53b

0.80b

 

2018

47247c

82.3b

17.6a

14404b

13551b

34.7a

228.4a

19.0a

0.69a

1.03a

                       

Tillage

CT

62122

77.6

17.3a

13652

12921

28.3

219.0

15.1

0.62

0.93

 

ST

57835

83.1

16.9b

14145

13353

30.0

219.7

16.0

0.63

0.95

 

NT

61456

82.9

17.2a

14208

13443

28.9

219.8

15.8

0.63

0.94

                       

Nitrogen

rate

(kg ha-1)

 

56

61889

73.2

17.6

13149

12499

27.3

216.4

13.7

0.60

0.90

112

61634

79.4

17.4

13773

13057

27.7

218.3

14.0

0.61

0.91

168

60187

83.1

16.8

14089

13274

30.6

221.0

17.0

0.64

0.97

224

58652

88.3

16.9

14845

13995

30.6

222.3

17.8

0.65

0.98

 

Trend

 

L

L

 

 

 

 

L

L

L

Means with similar letters are not statistically different at P < 0.05.

                       

 

Experiment 2. Optimization of irrigation management

Total irrigation water used in each treatment is calculated. Results showed that 33 and 66% less irrigation water were used in ET66 and ET33 treatments, respectively. This can transfer to 33 and 66% less energy (diesel fuel or electricity depending on the power source of the sprinkler) being used for sugarbeet irrigation. 

Reducing irrigation water to 66 and 33% of the crop evapotranspiration tended to reduce the root yield slightly in 2018 (It is noted that the experimental site had a ground water table at about 1.5 to 2 meters deep during the irrigation season, and we suspected that the sugarbeet crop might be able to take up water from >1.5 meter deep soil in the late growing season. Therefore, the sugarbeet at 33% ET treatment did not suffer severe water stress), and withholding irrigation 30 days before harvest tended also reduced root yield slightly. Sucrose concentration responded to reduced irrigation and water withholding different from root yield; decreasing irrigation water to 66 and 33% tended to increase sucrose concentration slightly (Table 2). Farmers may optimize water management to increase sucrose concentration without significantly reduce root yield, especially by reducing the irrigation amount in the late growing season and withholding water at appropriate time prior to harvest. A journal manuscript has completed and been submitted to a journal for publication based on this study.

Table 2. Means of sugarbeet measured variables by irrigation treatment and year.

Irrigation treatment

Plant stand

per ha

Root yield

Mg ha-1

Sucrose percent

Sucrose yield Mg ha-1

Impurity value

SLM %

Extractable sucrose

Mg ha-1

2016

2018

2016

2018

2016

2018

2016

2018

2016

2018

2016

2018

2016

2018

Withholding Time

                           

30 days

84093

79242

82.2

84.6

18.9

17.7

15.5

15.0

0.60

0.66b

0.90

0.98b

14.8

14.2

15 days

82734

80241

85.4

88.8

18.5

17.6

15.8

15.6

0.59

0.78a

0.88

1.16a

15.1

14.6

Irrigation level

                           

100ETc

82945

86589a

82.7

94.7a

18.3b

17.8ab

15.2

16.8a

0.59ab

0.70ab

0.89ab

1.05ab

14.5

15.8a

66ET

83202

73303b

83.2

75.7b

18.9a

17.2b

15.7

12.9b

0.56b

0.76a

0.84b

1.14a

15.1

12.1b

33ET

84093

79331ab

85.5

89.7a

18.8a

18.0a

16.1

16.2a

0.63a

0.68b

0.95a

1.03b

15.2

15.3a

SLM = Sucrose Loss to Molasses. Within column and treatment, means followed by different letters are significantly different based on the LSD (0.05).

 

 Experiment 3. Development of a sensor-based nitrogen management system for sugarbeet

The prerequisite for a sensor-based nitrogen management system is a reliable, effective, and accurate algorithm that can effectively predict crop yield based on crop sensing during the crop growth. Accordingly, we continued working on collecting NDVI, plant height, GDD, and final yield (root yield, sucrose yield, extractible sucrose yield) in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Based on the NDVI data, the in-season estimate of yield (INSEY) was calculated. We found a significant regression between INSEY at V10-V12 growth stage and sugarbeet final yield (R2 = 0.60), and extractable sucrose yield (R2= 0.66)

Extensive statistical works are underway to carefully analyze data and to put together data of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 in order to develop a reliable algorithm. Currently, we are working on a statistical analysis to perform a combined analysis of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 data and relate the NDVI data to nitrogen rate, root yield, and sucrose concentration. A journal article is expected to be prepared and submitted by 2020.

 

Experiment 4. On-farm demonstration of no-till sugarbeet and foliar application of micronutrients

The no-till sugarbeet had very good seedling emergence and seedling establishment in the no-till sugarbeet fields (Fig. 1). The yields of the no-till sugarbeet ranged from 77 to 94 tones/ha, which are comparable to the conventional tillage beet growers achieved in the same area in 2019 (Table 3). Foliar application of different products showed some improvement to sugarbeet root yield compared to the untreated check in the no-till sugarbeet, but not statistically significant (Table 3). The foliar nutrient application study will be continued in 2020 and a extension publication will be published in 2020.

Two workshops and on-farm tour were organized on August 7, 2017 and June 25, 2019. Sugarbeet growers who attended the workshops were able to see the performance of no-till sugarbeet at the Eastern Agricultural Research Center and the operating farms at Sidney and Savage, MT.

 

Table 3. Plant density, root yield, sucrose concentration, and sucrose yield of no-till sugarbeet affected by foliar application of different nutrient products on Berwick and Steinbesser farms in 2019.

  Berwick Farm         Steinbeisser Farm

 

   
Treatment Plant density (plants/ha)

Root yield

(t/ha)

Sucrose (%) Sucrose yield (t/ha)   Plant density (plants/ha)

Root yield

(t/ha)

Sucrose (%) Sucrose yield (t/ha)
Check 117681 80.3 16.2 13.0   121042 74.9 14.6 11.0
Sugar Mover (early) 114317 87.7 16.0 14.1   114319 92.9 15.3 14.1
Sugar Mover (Late) 107593 90.8 15.4 13.9   110955 91.7 15.0 13.7
Harvest More Urea Mate 121042 82.5 15.9 13.0   121042 82.3 14.9 12.3
Stroller Grow 134492 89.0 16.0 14.1   117681 83.7 14.7 12.3
Bio-Forge Advanced 121042 87.5 15.9 13.9   127768 75.8 15.2 11.4
EDTA-Mg 117681 76.9 16.3 13.0   117681 79.2 14.6 11.7
EDTA-Zn 114319 93.7 15.5 14.4   134492 88.4 15.0 13.2
P > F 0.75 0.14 0.96   0.52 0.50 0.40

 

 

Research conclusions:

The results of the field studies revealed that sugarbeet stand, root yield, sucrose concentration, and extractible sucrose yield were statistically similar in NT, ST, and CT systems. In fact, reduced tillage produced similar yield at a significantly lower production cost. Economic analysis showed that CT would cost farmers US$ 111 per ha more compared to NT to produce similar sucrose yield. Therefore, NT in this environment could be a win-win scenario for farmers by increasing their profit while minimizing the adverse effect of agricultural activities on the soil and environment. Sugarbeet growers cooperating in this project have seen the benefits of conservation tillage and have adopted no-till practices in their sugarbeet production. Regardless of the tillage system, increasing rate of N from 56 to 224 kg ha-1 increased sugarbeet root yield, which was offset by increased impurities in the sugar extract and decreased sucrose concentration. Therefore, extractible sucrose yield did not significantly increase with increasing rate of N. The nitrogen requirement for sugarbeet was similar in CT, ST, and NT systems in this study. The sensor-based nitrogen management algorithm is under development. 

 

 

 

Participation Summary
3 Farmers participating in research

Education

Educational approach:

During the project period, we organize a field day every year in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 at the Eastern Agricultural Research center. We invite regional growers and general public to attend the event.  During the field day, the PI and the research team members presented research results of this sugarbeet tillage and N management project to the audience, and the audience was able to see the crop performance in the field under different treatments. The benefits and issues of reduced tillage practices for sugarbeet production were discussed with the attendants.

For education and on-farm demonstration (Objective 3), we worked with three sugarbeet growers in Sidney, Savage, and Culbertson, MT. Two no-till sugarbeet workshops and on-farm no-till sugarbeet tours were organized in 2017 and 2019. MSU Researchers, USDA-ARS scientists, Representatives from Sidney Sugars Inc, and NRCS staff gave presentations to sugarbeet growers during the workshops. At the end, we toured the demonstration farms in Sidney and Savage. The no-till growers shared their experience with other farmers attending the events.

Research results have been published in the Montana State University-EARC/North Dakota State University-WREC research updates and the EARC Annual Reports, which have been distributed to producers and general public at no cost. Results were also presented to growers at the MonDak Ag Research Summit held in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

We also published the results in Sugar Producer Magazine and the Soil and Tillage Journal. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

6 Consultations
4 Journal articles
5 On-farm demonstrations
4 Published press articles, newsletters
6 Tours
8 Webinars / talks / presentations
6 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

500 Farmers
70 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

At MSU-Eastern Agricultural Research Center, we organize a field day every year. We invite regional growers and general public to attend the event. The 2016 Field Day was held on June 30, 2016, with 87 people attending the event; the 2017 Field Day was held on July 19, 2017, with 100 attendants; the 2018 Field Day was held on July 17, 2018, with 100 attendants; and the 2019 Field Day was held on July 16, 2019, with 100 attendants. During the field day, we presented research results from this sugarbeet tillage and N management project to the audience, and the event participants were able to see the crop performance in the field under different treatments. The benefits and issues of reduced tillage practices for sugarbeet production were discussed with the participants.

For education and on-farm demonstration (Objective 3), we worked with three sugarbeet growers in Sidney, Savage, and Culbertson, MT. We also held two sugarbeet workshops and on-farm no-till sugarbeet tours on August 7, 2017 and June 25, 2019. About 25 sugarbeet growers attended each of the workshops. The workshop had several educational sessions. MSU scientists, USDA-ARS scientists, representatives from Sidney Sugars Inc, and NRCS staff gave presentations to the participants during the workshops. At the end, we toured the demonstration farms. The cooperating no-till growers shared their no-till experience with other farmers attending the event. Each stop took about 1 hour and an excellent farmer-to-farmer technical discussion was made.

The research results have been published in the Montana State University-EARC/North Dakota State University-WREC research update and the EARC Annual Report in 2017, 2018, and 2019, which are easily and publicly available to anyone at no cost. Results were also presented to growers at the MonDak Ag Research Summit held on November 15, 2017, November 14, 2018, and December 12, 2019. We also published the results in Sugar Producer Magazine and the Soil and Tillage Journal.


Reports/Extension Publications:
1) MSU-EARC/NDSU-WREC Agricultural Research Update 2016.
2) MSU-EARC/NDSU-WREC Agricultural Research Update 2017.
3) MSU-EARC/NDSU-WREC Agricultural Research Update 2018.
4) MSU-EARC/NDSU-WREC Agricultural Research Update 2019.
5) MSU-EARC 2016 Annual Report.
6) MSU-EARC 2017 Annual Report.
7) MSU-EARC 2018 Annual Report.
9) MSU-EARC 2019 Annual Report.
These reports have been distributed to growers and are readily accessible on the website (hard copy and/or eprint) by stakeholders.

Conference Abstracts/Proceedings:
Sutradhar, A., and C. Chen. 2019. Sugar beet yield and sugar content response to micronutrients in tilled and no-till sugar beet. MonDak Ag Research Summit, December 12, 2019. Sidney, MT.

Chen, C., A. Sutradhar, and W. Franck. 2019. Tillage and nitrogen management for sugar beet production. ASA-CSSA International Meeting, Nov. 10-13, San Antonio, TX.

Chen, C. 2018. Effect of tillage, irrigation, and nitrogen on sugarbeet yield and sugar content. MonDak Ag Research Summit, November 14, 2018. Sidney, MT.

Chen, C., A, Nilahyane, and R. Keshavarz Afshar. 2018. Nitrogen and water management of sugarbeet under no-till. 2018 ASA and CSSA Meeting, November 04-07, Baltimore, MD.

Chen, C., R. Keshavarz Afshar, W. Stevens, W. Iversen, and T. Fine. 2017. Sugarbeet response to tillage and nitrogen management. MonDak Ag Research Summit. November 15, 2017. Sidney, MT.

Chen, C., R. Keshavarz Afshar, W. Stevens, and W. Iversen. 2017. Response of sugarbeet to nitrogen rate while shifting from conventional tillage to conservation tillage. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Annual International Meeting, October 22-25, Tampa, FL.

Keshavarz Afshar, R., C. Chen, W. Stevens, and W. Iversen. 2017. Sugarbeet yield and quality response to irrigation management. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Annual International Meeting, October 22-25, Tampa, FL.

Chen, C. and R. Keshavarz Afsha. 2017. Conservation tillage and nitrogen management for sugarbeet production. 7th International Conference on Environmental Pollution (ICEPR’17), June 6-8, Rome, Italy.

 

Journal articles:
Chen, C., R. Keshavarz Afsha, B. Stevens, A. Nilahyane, R. Brown, W. Iverson, and T. Fine. Finding the right combination: how beets react to nitrogen inputs under different tillage systems. Sugar Producer Magazine (serving the national sugarbeet industry), January 2018, p22-24.

Keshavarz Afshar, R., Nilahyane, A., C. Chen, H. He, W.B. Stevens, and W.M. Iversen. 2019. Impact of conservation tillage and nitrogen on sugarbeet yield and quality. Soil and Tillage Research. 191:216-223.

Keshavarz-Afshar, R., C. Chen, J. Echoff, and C. Flynn. 2018. Impact of a living mulch cover crop on sugarbeet establishment, root yield and sucrose purity. Field Crops Research 223:150-154.

Nilahyane, A., C. Chen, R. Keshavarz Afshar, W.B. Stevens, and W.M. Iversen. 2019. Sustainable water and nitrogen management of sprinkler-irrigated sugarbeet. Agricultural Water Management (submitted).

 

 

Learning Outcomes

3 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key areas taught:
  • Residue management and N application method, no-till planter setting.
Key changes:
  • Residue management after harvest of previous cereal crop in the fall

  • Setting the beet planter for no-till system.

  • Nitrogen fertilizer application timing and method

  • Using row cleaner to clean crop residue and create better seedbed condition

Project Outcomes

3 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
10 Farmers intend/plan to change their practice(s)
2 Grants received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

In our study, the no-till produced a similar yield and sugar concentration as the conventional tillage. However, no-till used less fuel, labor, and machinery hour, which saved farmers $110/ac in field production. The no-till practice also protects soil from wind erosion. 

We are currently working on the sensor-based N management tool for growers, which will improve water and nitrogen use efficiency and reduce nitrogen loss to environment. 

 

 

Success stories:

At least three farmers have adopted no-till technology for sugarbeet production on their farms. They are pleased with less inputs in no-till operation and have not seen obvious yield penalty in the no-till practice. In fact, after the crop rotation sequence and residue management strategies being figured out, the no-till growers claimed that no-till sugarbeet performs very well.

Recommendations:

More education and demonstration activities are needed to teach farmers how to plan crop rotation sequence and residue management strategies in no-till sugarbeet. We need to continue to work on the sensor-based nitrogen management tool for both no-till and conventional tillage systems.

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.