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Sugar beet response to rotation and soil management in a 12-year irrigated study in southern Alberta

Larney, F.J., Nitschelm, J.J., Regitnig, P.J., Pearson, D.C., Blackshaw, R.E. and Lupwayi, N.Z. 2016. Sugar beet response to rotation and soil management in a 12-year irrigated study in southern Alberta. Can. J. Plant Sci. 96: 776–789.

Abstract

Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) has a long history as an option for irrigated crop rotations in southern Alberta. A 12-yr (2000–2011) study compared conservation (CONS) and conventional (CONV) management for sugar beet in 4- to 6-yr rotations which also included dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), and soft white spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Oat (Avena sativa L.) and timothy (Phleum pratense L.) were included in the longest 6-yr rotation. Conservation management incorporated reduced tillage, cover crops, feedlot manure compost addition, and solid-seeded dry bean. Compared with a 4-yr CONV rotation (52.2 Mg ha−1), sugar beet root yield (averaged over the second 6 yr of the study, 2006–2011) was significantly higher, by 11%, on 4- and 5-yr CONS rotations (57.7–57.9 Mg ha−1), and by 8% on a 6-yr CONS rotation (56.1 Mg ha−1). Sugar beet impurity parameters were significantly affected by rotation in, at most, 3 of 12 yr. However, averaged over the final 6 yr of the study (2006–2011), a significantly higher K concentration (impurity) was found with CONS (2108 mg kg−1) vs. CONV (1958 mg kg−1) management. Integrating CONS management practices into sugar beet rotations led to significant yield benefits while effects on sugar beet quality were minimal.

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