Western Wisconsin has moved from a major forage producing region to a continuous row crop producing region, mainly a corn/soybean rotation. Adding an environmentally friendly and economically viable crop to the traditional corn-soybean rotation improves the sustainability of our soil and water resources.
Research will be on three Western Wisconsin farms with three different soil types and three different production systems. These include a non-irrigated sandy soil with a conventional tillage system, an eroded (but still productive) silt loam ridgetop soil in a no-till system, and highly productive loamy soil in an organic system. All plots will be designed using random block design and replicated four times to provide statistically reliable data. All locations will use the same research design.
Variables measured will include total biomass produced per acre, fiber quality based on variety and seeding rates, nitrogen fertilizer needs for the crop, and basic forage quality. Farm partners have an additional interest in fiber hemp as an emergency forage crop, which is common in parts of Europe. Finally, the project team will calculate rotation soil loss at each farm under traditional corn/soybean rotation and compare with rotations containing hemp and other possible rotation crops.
Project objectives from proposal:
The major objectives of this project are listed below. Each of the ag professional partners will be responsible for specific objectives.
- Evaluate fiber hemp varieties to determine performance in Wisconsin soils and growing conditions.
- Identify proper seeding rates for fiber hemp to meet potential industry needs.
- Evaluate environmental impact (soil loss, soil nitrogen movement) of industrial hemp in crop rotations.
- Measure fiber hemp forage quality as a potential ruminant animal feedstuff (lab analysis only).
- Begin a fiber hemp cost of production database as a guide for Midwest farmers.
- Evaluate nitrogen application rates and fiber yield.