Developing Sustainable Dryland Cropping Systems in SW Colorado and SE Utah Using Conservation Tillage and Crop Diversification

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $142,380.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $15,810.00
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Abdelfettah Berrada
Colorado State University-Southwestern Colorado Research Center

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, safflower, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Vegetables: beans


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, market study, risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, physical control, prevention, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, organic matter, soil quality/health


    Winter wheat after a 14-month fallow produced the best seed yield in two out of four years, due to earlier planting and more available soil moisture at planting. Soil moisture availability and wheat yield were enhanced by MT and NT management. Wheat-based systems that included a crop each year were less successful due to the dry conditions that prevailed throughout the study period (2000-2004). The Wheat-Corn-Bean rotation showed promise but it was not clear how corn benefited the system. More research is needed to determine the optimum cropping intensity in the unique environment of southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

    Project objectives:

    Research objectives:

    a. Determine the effectiveness of alternative soil and crop management systems on crop yield, soil and water conservation, soil fertility, and pest management.

    b. Evaluate the costs and returns of these systems in the context of the whole farm enterprise.

    Educational objectives:

    a. Increase grower awareness and adaptation of conservation tillage practices.

    b. Provide information on alternative crops and how they can be used to enhance the sustainability of dryland cropping systems in the project area.

    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.