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Conquer Crop Rotation Decisions

January 29, 2011
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Farm Journal Machinery Editor and Test Plot Director
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In episode 12 of Corn College TV, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer explains the different considerations that should be in play before a crop rotation is finalized.

“Although the market may want us to do one thing, what we can really achieve agronomically may be different,” Bauer explains. “There’s a balance between what can we do in the field and where can we make the most money.”
Bauer says if you are considering switching your crop rotation consider the known risks.
“Think about your fields, your experience,” she says. “For example, wheat doesn’t like wet feet, so a field that holds water shouldn’t be forced into being planted to wheat. Another example is if you take a field to back-to-back soybeans, think about issues with sudden death syndrome and soybean cyst nematode.”
Another consideration is field prep for different crops.
“Think from a tillage perspective, that corn-on-corn requires aggressive tillage, ripping root balls, and burying residue. Highly erodible land limits your potential to do corn-on-corn successfully,” she says.  
Taking a field to corn-on-corn requires heightened hybrid selections.
“Think about the choice of genetics, traits, and what will perform in your chosen crop rotations,” Bauer says. “There can be huge yield swings based on hybrid.”
Dedicating more acres to one crop could demand that you gear up with more machinery.
“If you’ve struggled to get planted in a timely fashion, consider your equipment and your labor limitations,” she says.
Bauer concludes that it takes knowing what you do well will help you succeed balancing your agronomic and marketing decisions. Learn more in episode 12 of Corn College TV.

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