Alternative Cropping Systems Study - Scott, Saskatchewan.
A long-term, cropping systems study was initiated in 1994 near Scott, Saskatchewan, to develop an enhanced understanding of the role of inputs and cropping diversity in sustaining crop production and soil quality/health as well as preserving biodiversity in the region. Each of three input strategies was applied to three levels of cropping diversity. Organic input systems were based on non-chemical pest control and nutrient management; reduced input systems used integrated long-term management of pests and nutrients utilizing chemicals and no-till practices; high input systems used pesticides and fertilizers “as required” based on accepted recommendations associated with pest thresholds and residual soil nutrient levels from soil tests. Cropping diversity comparisons compare wheat and fallow based systems with either a diverse mix of cereal, oilseed and pulse crops, or a mix of annual and perennial crops. Findings, to date, suggest soil quality/health can be improved and nutrient accumulation in the soil profile minimized by increasing cropping frequencies and reducing tillage. Furthermore, high crop yields and positive economic returns can be sustained by using appropriate combinations of inputs and crop diversification.
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