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

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: wheat


  • Crop Production: crop rotation, fallow, no-till, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Using cover crops to improve soil health and environmental quality in semiarid environments of NC region where water is the major yield limiting factor may not be economically justified. However, the continuing struggle to control herbicide-resistant weeds during no-till summer fallow is a major challenge in sustaining this important water conservation practice. Growing grain-type field peas (cool-season legume) instead of no-till summer fallow may be a solution to this problem as it can: (1) reduce the number of herbicide applications, delay the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds and preserve no-till summer fallow; (2) provide rotational benefits through N fixation, improving soil physical properties and increasing biodiversity above and below ground; and (3) generate profit. An increase in field peas acreage in Southwest Nebraska by 11,000 acres in the past 5 years stimulated $10,000,000 investment in a pea protein processing facility that will enhance local economic growth, stabilize the field pea market, and increase commodity prices. Our project will act in synergy with community efforts by evaluating response of field peas to different agronomic practices, quantifying their rotational costs and benefits, and generating education/decision-support system that will assist farmers in making profitable decision on whether to summer fallow or grow field peas.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our objectives will be to: (1) compare impact of field peas vs summer fallow on water use, soil infiltration rates, soil fertility, biodiversity, yield of succeeding wheat crop and profitability; (2) determine optimal seeding placement, herbicide programs, inoculant types and seeding rates to grow field peas; (3) select highest yielding (grain and protein) grain-type field pea varieties across the semiarid environments of NC region; (4) develop comprehensive simulation model with detailed economic analysis to help farmers make profitable decision on whether to summer fallow or grow field peas; (5) disseminate research results through field days, extension and peer-reviewed publications.

    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.