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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2008-2009
14 Fluid Journal WINTER 2008 DR. JOHN SIJ, PHYLLIS DYER, AND MARK BELEW SUMMARY The Texas Rolling Plains has very large and diverse wheat/stocker operations that rural economies depend on as a major source of revenue. In these systems, wheat is planted in September under conventional-till. Conventional-till results in the loss of soil moisture, reduced organic matter, soil compaction, and soil organic carbon loss. Numerous field operations with large, expensive equipment along with high operating and labor costs are required to prepare "clean" fields prior to seeding. Soil erosion by wind and water can be extensive on exposed soil. Wheat seedlings are unprotected from desiccating wind and washing out under conventional-till. Large areas are subject to replanting, creating costly delays in wheat establishment and plant growth needed in a graze and grain wheat/stocker operation. Conservation-till holds promise in mitigating soil and moisture losses in wheat/stocker systems. Cover Maximizing Forage/Beef Yields In Wheat/Stocker Production Systems Studies in Texas plains examine optimal N fertility levels in both no-till and conventional-till production systems. There was no significant difference in forage production systems indicating that no- till in dual-use wheat was as effective in producing forage as conventional-till during the 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons. However, there was a significant effect of increasing amounts of preplant nitrogen (N) on forage production in the early part of the growing season in 2003- 2004 and 2004-2005 but not in the poor-growth season of 2005-2006. Data showed that not all N is lost from one season to the next when a crop does not fully use applied N. Topdressing increased forage protein content regardless of the amount of preplant N, up to 120 lbs/A. In 2004 and 2005, there was a general increase in grain protein with increased preplant N application. crops and/or crop residue on the soil surface enhance rainfall capture and retention, reduce evaporation, maintain seedling viability longer than under conventional-till, provide weed suppression, and increase profitability. However, producers in the Rolling Plains have not adopted no-till in a grazing system because of reservations about stand establishment, soil compaction, soil fertility, lack of proper equipment, and weed control. Understandably, most do not want to risk their future on an unproven technology. However, a few producers have successfully implemented no-till management in grain-only systems. A major enterprise is stocker cattle on wheat pasture, with 30 to 80 percent of the wheat grazed each year. A key input to all wheat production is nitrogen (N) fertilizer. Information on N fertility response of wheat in a no-till grazing system does not exist, although this knowledge is vital to successful implementation of no-till grazing
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