Supporting Alternative Crop Options Through Improved Fertility Recommendations for Canola in Central and South Texas

Project Overview

OS18-119
Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2018: $14,811.00
Projected End Date: 09/14/2021
Grant Recipient: Texas A&M University
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Fernando Guillen-Portal
Texas A&M University

Commodities

  • Agronomic: canola

Practices

  • Crop Production: fertilizers, nutrient management
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    U.S. wheat acres have dropped to the lowest since the early 1900s (USDA-NASS, 2017). In general, producers need more crop options in their cropping systems to diversify and take advantage of alternative markets, but this is especially true for wheat.

    Wheat is a cool-season crop and is one of the two top crops planted in Texas (4.7 million acres; USDA-NASS, 2017). All other dominate crops in Texas are warm season. Since there are few cool season crop rotation options, rotating warm season crops with wheat generally leads to a prolonged fallow period from early summer through the following spring before the subsequent crop can be planted. Fallow ground is less economically productive in areas with adequate rainfall and it does not provide any soil health benefits. Alternatively, a cool season rotational crop would shorten fallow periods and be a more sustainable choice by providing ground cover for more months out of the year.

    In response, work is underway to evaluate canola production in Texas. With the identification of adapted cultivars, more agronomic work needs to be done to identify proper management practices. One of the biggest obstacles in canola production is getting a good stand establishment. While canola can be a robust crop and tolerate many weather extremes once established, it is quite vulnerable as a young seedling (Martin et al., 2001). A nutrient deficiency at this stage is likely to reduce plant stands and plant vigor, but little to no work has been done on canola fertility on Texas soils, particularly in the Texas Blacklands Region. One proven method to assist in stand establishment and early season vigor is through the use of starter fertilizer.

    This project aims to increase sustainability by promoting the adoption of canola, a potential rotational crop for the Blacklands Region of Texas, which if successful would shorten fallow periods in wheat rotations, and improve weed control through better chemical rotation. By focusing on fertility, this study will determine best in-furrow rates for starter fertilizer that maximize economic returns for canola, and reduce residual nutrients in the soil, lowering risk of off-site movement into waterways.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project aims to increase sustainability by promoting the adoption of canola, a potential rotational crop for the Blacklands Region of Texas, which if successful would shorten fallow periods in wheat rotations, and improve weed control through better chemical rotation. By focusing on fertility, this study will determine best in-furrow rates for starter fertilizer that maximize economic returns for canola, and reduce residual nutrients in the soil, lowering risk of off-site movement into waterways.

    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.