Effects of tillage method and crop rotation on non-renewable energy use efficiency for a thin Black Chernozem in the Canadian Prairies

January 1, 2004 Plant Breeding and Agronomy Data 0 Comments

Effects of tillage method and crop rotation on non-renewable energy use efficiency for a thin Black Chernozem in the Canadian Prairies

Year: 2004
Authors: Zentner, R.P., Lafond, G.P., Derksen, D.A., Nagy, C.N., Wall, D.D., May, W.E.
Publication Name: Soil & Tillage Research
Publication Details: Volume 77; Pages 125 – 136


Producers in the Canadian Prairies have begun to extend and diversify their cereal-based rotations by including oilseed and pulse crops, and by managing these newer cropping systems with minimum- and zero-tillage practices. This study examined the implications of these land use changes on non-renewable energy requirements (both direct and indirect), energy output, and energy use efficiency for monoculture cereal, cereal–oilseed, and cereal–oilseed–pulse rotations, each managed using conventional (CT), minimum (MT), and zero (ZT) tillage practices on a thin Black Chernozem in Saskatchewan, Canada. The crop rotations included: spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–spring wheat–winter wheat–fallow (Ws–Ws–Ww–F), spring wheat–spring wheat–flax (Linum usitatissimum L.)–winter wheat (Ws–Ws–Fx–Ww), and spring wheat–flax–winter wheat–field pea (Pisum sativum L.) (Ws–Fx–Ww–P). The findings, based on 12 years of data, showed that non-renewable energy use for the complete cropping systems was largely unaffected by tillage method, but that it differed significantly with crop rotations. Energy requirements were lowest for Ws–Ws–Ww–F (average 6389 MJ ha-1), intermediate for Ws–Fx–Ww–P (11% more), and highest for the Ws–Ws–Fx–Ww (28% more). The substitution of pea for spring wheat in the Ws–Fx–Ww–P versus Ws–Ws–Fx–Ww rotation reduced total energy use by 13%, reflecting the minimal requirement forNfertilizer by pulses due to their ability to biologically fix N, and from the lower fertilizer N rate that was applied to spring wheat grown after the legume. The use of MT and ZT practices provided significant energy savings (compared to CT) in on-farm use of fuel and in machine operation and manufacture for some cropping system components (e.g., summerfallow preparation, spring wheat grown on pea stubble, and for pea grown on cereal stubble), but these savings were often offset by higher energy requirements for herbicides and for N fertilizer with conservation tillage management. Gross energy output averaged 32 315 MJ ha-1 for Ws–Ws–Ww–F, 41 287 MJ ha-1 (or 28% more) for Ws–Ws–Fx–Ww, and 42 961 (or 33% more) for Ws–Fx–Ww–P. Tillage method had little overall influence on energy output for the monoculture cereal and cereal–oilseed–pulse rotations, but it was generally lower with CT than with MT or ZT management for the cereal–oilseed rotation. Energy use efficiency, measured as grain produced per unit of energy input and as the ratio of energy output to energy input, was highest for the cereal–oilseed–pulse rotation (373 and 6.1 kg GJ-1, respectively) and lower, but generally similar, for the cereal–oilseed and monoculture cereal rotations (298 and 5.1 kg GJ-1, respectively). The use of conservation tillage management enhanced overall energy use efficiency for the two mixed rotations, but not for the monoculture cereal rotation. We concluded that adopting diversified crop rotations, together with minimum and zero tillage management practices, will enhance non-renewable energy use efficiency of annual grain production in this sub-humid region. Author’s Abstract.

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