Evaluation of Pulse Crops for Dryland Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Wyoming
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Carrie Eberle
University of Wyoming


  • Agronomic: Dry Peas, Lentils, Chickpeas, Guar


  • Crop Production: cover crops, cropping systems, fallow
  • Production Systems: dryland farming
  • Soil Management: Soil Moisture

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem: Dryland agriculture in the Northcentral Great Plains is limited by low precipitation, cool
    temperatures, and poor soil fertility. Because of this, there are few cash crops that consistently perform
    well in the region and most dryland producers rely on winter wheat for their major cash crop. When
    market prices for winter wheat fluctuate producers have very few alternative crop options to rotate into. In
    addition to single market dependence, the most widely used cropping rotation of winter wheat-fallow
    reduces landscape diversity and degrades soil health, making it unsustainable.
    Research Question: Are pulses a sustainable crop option for dryland producers in the Northcentral Great
    Plains? Incorporating pulse crops into the current wheat-fallow rotation will offer new cash crop options
    for farmers in the region while also providing much needed soil health benefits from having a legume in
    the rotation. Crops of chickpea, lentil, guar, and dry peas will be evaluated for their agronomic production
    potential and the sustainable value of these crops will be assessed by measuring soil fertility parameters as
    well as soil moisture. The results of this work have the potential to not only diversify crop production but
    also improve the health of the overall system.
    Expected outcomes: As the result of this project we expect to be able to provide producers information
    1. Maximum yield expectation for each pulse crop and the potential profitability of each.
    2. Soil nitrogen contribution of each pulse crop into current rotations.
    3. Pulse crop water use and soil water recharge rate compared to fallow and how to maximize water
    use efficiency for the cropping system.
    4. Strategies to manage termination of pulse crops to maximize soil moisture and nitrogen
    availability under variable environmental conditions.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Identify maximum yield expectation for lentil, chickpea, grain pea, and guar.
    2. Measure soil nitrogen contribution of each pulse crop.
    3. Measure crop water use and soil water recharge of each pulse crop compared to fallow.
    4. Determine how timing of termination of pulse crops effects soil moisture and soil
    nitrogen availability.

    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.