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Research Article

Increasing Cropping System Diversity Balances Productivity, Profitability and Environmental Health

  • Adam S. Davis mail,

    adam.davis@ars.usda.gov

    Affiliation: United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, Urbana, Illinois, United States of America

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  • Jason D. Hill,

    Affiliation: Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, United States of America

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  • Craig A. Chase,

    Affiliation: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, United States of America

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  • Ann M. Johanns,

    Affiliation: Department of Economics, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Osage, Iowa, United States of America

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  • Matt Liebman

    Affiliation: Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, United States of America

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  • Published: October 10, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047149

Reader Comments (6)

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Suitability of cultivation as weed control mechanism

Posted by damiller51 on 05 Nov 2012 at 18:39 GMT

While the use of cultivation may work on the level ground at the Boone County location, it should have been noted in the discussion portion of the methodology that cultivation may not be appropriate for soils with slope that are currently bring farmed with continuous no-till to reduce soil erosion.

No competing interests declared.

RE: Suitability of cultivation as weed control mechanism

mliebman replied to damiller51 on 05 Nov 2012 at 19:51 GMT

Zero tillage (no-till) crop production practices can be important components of soil conservation strategies but they also require greater reliance on herbicides than practices that integrate physical (e.g., cultivation) and cultural (e.g., diverse rotation) weed control tactics with herbicides. Zero tillage is growing in use in some regions, but it is not the dominant form of soil management for crops in the US, and it is not widely used in the north central portion of Iowa where the present study was conducted. The USDA-Economic Research Service estimated that in 2009, zero tillage production practices were used on 35.5% of US cropland planted to eight major crops (Horowitz et al. [2010], No-till farming is a growing practice, http://www.ers.usda.gov/m...). The same study estimated that in Iowa in 2005, only 22.8% of corn acres were managed without tillage, and that in 2006, 40.8% of Iowa soybean acres were managed without tillage.

No competing interests declared.