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Productivity of Long-Term No-Till Plots - Lethbridge Alberta.

Smith, E.G., Larney, F.J., Nakonechny, D.J., Barbieri, J.M., and Lindwall, C.W. (2012). "Productivity of Long-Term No-Till Plots - Lethbridge Alberta.", Prairie Soils and Crops, 5, pp. 123-131.


A long-term no-till study was initiated in 1968 at the Lethbridge Research Centre. The study was initiated at the infancy of no-till management to better understand the long-term implications and the management problems that could arise with no-till. The crop rotations in this study included fallow-wheat or fallow-wheat-wheat/flax. Three tillage systems were selected for the study: (1) wide blade (cultivator) that leaves most of the crop residues on the surface after tillage, (2) heavy duty cultivator that buries more crop residues than the blade cultivator, and (3) no-till (chemical control of weeds during the fallow and crop year). The study provided industry with some early indications of the importance of crop residue management for no-till systems, and some specifications required for seeding equipment to ensure good seed placement. The study also showed that the soils would not become compacted over time, a concern of many early sceptics of no-till. Over the forty year period of the study, it was determined that no-till yields in a fallow-wheat rotation were lower than with tillage, but if a hoe opener was used at seeding the yield difference was less. In the three-year fallow-wheat-wheat/flax rotation, the no-till wheat yield after fallow was as high as with tillage, and the hoe opener resulted in higher total yield than a disc opener. There was no yield penalty for no-till in the past 10 years, an indication that no-till management of these systems has improved and changes to soil properties with no-till have been positive.

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