Soil fertility and weed management in long-term conventional and organic crop rotations

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Grant Recipient: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Charles Francis
Grain Place Foundation


  • Agronomic: corn, sorghum (milo), soybeans, wheat, hay


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: crop rotation
  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: chemical control, physical control, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will increase our knowledge of soil fertility, weed population mechanisms and biodiversity in sustainable crop rotations, and encourage producers in the Midwest to improve planning for long-term crop rotations. Results will be especially useful to organic farmers who often rely on sustainable crop rotations to meet soil fertility, weed management and yield goals. This project will provide knowledge to farmers on the long-term benefits of diverse crop rotations, and will promote transition to flexible rotations that will sustain improved soil fertility, weed management, crop yields, and farmer income. There is currently a strong need for research on long-term crop rotations. Despite the heavy push to intensify crop production through the heavy, even excessive use of chemical inputs, the long-term benefits in terms of soil fertility and weed pressure plus a profitable bottom line make a strong case for sustainable long-term rotations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We will demonstrate how improvements in weed control and soil fertility in rotations will directly improve crop yields, profitability, and sustainable land use. These benefits may also translate into fewer farm consolidations, more people on the land and stronger rural communities. In the fall of 2008, we will compile thirty-two years of data from a long-term rotation study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We have information on yield, soil fertility and weed pressure in fifty-two research plots with four replicates of: two conventional rotations and two organic rotations. Project outcomes will be evaluated with the help of a five-farmer consultant team and farmer surveys to gauge attitudes toward sustainable crop rotations. In order to meet the desired project outcomes, we will publish one or more journal articles and conduct several extension workshops to inform farmers on the results of this long-term rotation study.

    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.