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LSP Report LS7005

Crop Rotations and Cover Crop Effects on Erosion Control, Tomato Yields and Soil Properties in Southwestern Ontario



Researcher: R.W. Johnston, Ag. Chemistry Section, RCAT, Principal Researcher

Funding: $287,900

Objectives

  1. To enhance and maintain the physical and chemical properties of coarse textured soils suitable for vegetable production, and to find cost effective water and wind erosion control measures to reduce soil degradation.

 

Expected Benefits

  1. The impact of adopting stewardship cropping practices in vegetable production on coarse textured soils will be the preservation and enhancement of the soil resource.
  2. Improved structure and organic matter reduce problems due to root rots (vegetable crops are very susceptible to this). Better soil structure will result in more even crops and growth. This should result in higher yields and lower production costs resulting in higher profitability for the farmer.
  3. The use of appropriate soil conservation measures within the vegetable production systems will help to reduce wind and water erosion on the farm as well as off site.

 

Summary of Research Results

CROP ROTATIONS

Weed control was more of a problem in 1992 due to frequent rains. The tomatoes following the rye cover crop had the least weed escapes from the first herbicide application. This was also true where soybeans followed a rye cover crop (rotation Soybeans-Tomatoes).

In 1992, no replanting was done with the transplanter due to Colorado potato beetle, however, some plants were replaced by hand at both locations to fill in for dead plants or those eaten off at both locations to keep an even plant population.

As a result of crop rotation, soil structure and drainage appears to be improving at both locations. Measurements need to be taken to substantial these observations.

Yields at Leamington in 1992 were the highest since the project began. The soil improving benefits of rotation appear to be gaining. Continuous tomatoes continues to be the lowest yielding culture. Those rotations in which tomatoes followed a legume - red clover or alfalfa and those tomatoes following incorporation of large amounts of straw showed improved growth and yield. The rye-tomato rotation was one of the lower yielding rotations in 1992.

The continuous tomato culture has declining yields at Dresden and is the lowest yielding culture each year. Similar to Leamington the Soybean-Tomatoes rotation is next lowest yield rotation to continuous culture. The highest yielding rotations at Dresden have been Alfalfa-Alfalfa-Tomatoes, W. Wheat-Soybeans-Tomatoes and W.Wheat-Red Clover-Tomatoes which indicate the desirability of a legume to be included in the rotation and/or crop with large amount of residue.

Tomatoes have been quite response to nitrogen particularly in Leamington and under continuous tomato culture at both locations. Although the effect is not significant, nitrogen tended to increase the green tomatoes slightly and Leamington and did give a significant effect in Dresden in 1992.

COVER CROPS

In 1992 no yield results were taken as cover crops were set up very late in the season. The tomatoes planted on fall beds with no tillage in Dresden were struck by frost on May 24 and 25 and again on June 22. On the no tilled fall beds, growth was slowed severely. Plots for 1993 had very good cover crop growth.

 

 

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Created: 03-23-1996
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:37:55 AM