Economics of five wheat production systems with no-till and conventional tillage

Conventional tillage (CT) continues to be used on the vast majority of land seeded to monoculture winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in the Southern Plains of the United States. In the region, wheat can be grown for either grain-only, forage-only, or for both fall–winter forage + grain (dual-purpose). This study was conducted to determine the net returns of five alternative wheat production systems, for both CT and no-till (NT). The five production systems included one for forage-only, two for dual-purpose (fall–winter grazing + grain) with different planting dates, one grain-only, and one forage-only double cropped with foxtail millet [Setaria italica (L.) Beauv.]. The field research was conducted on three farm fields for 3 yr. Average wheat grain yields were greater with CT, whereas average fall wheat forage yields were significantly greater on the NT plots. Wheat hay and millet hay yields were not significantly different across tillage systems. Economic analysis was conducted for both a machinery complement sized for a 260-ha farm and a machinery complement sized for a 1036-ha farm. For both farm sizes and both tillage systems, the early-September-planted dual-purpose system (ESD) produced the greatest net returns. For the 260-ha farm, CT produced greater net returns than NT for each of the five production systems. Conventional tillage also produced greater economic returns for the three systems that included grain harvest for the 1036-ha farm. However, for the larger farm size, NT generated greater net returns for both total forage systems.

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