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  Soil Tillage Management of Dykeland Soils for Better Crop Diversification and Wildlife Use - Effect on Agronomic Performance

Vernon Rodd1, Jason Wells2, Roger Thériault3, Herb Rees4, Lien Chow4, Ken Webb5, Ken McRae6, Keith MacAloney7, John Wile8, Reg Melanson7, Laurie Collette3, Rob Gordon9, Sherry Fillmore6 and Brad Walker6

(Partners: Phillip Pederson (Philarik Acres Ltd.), Robert Acton (R.A. Farms), Terry Lister (CORCAN), Chignecto Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Cumberland County Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Eastern Habitat Joint Venture)

Abstract: In 1997, a multi-year trial was established at three sites, Amherst Point, NS; Sackville, NB and Dorchester to evaluate conventional, zero and minimum tillage systems on the dykelands. This was is an extensive project which examines the effect the various tillage treatments on agronomic performance, soil properties and wildlife use. The first year of the trial, 1997, was used to collect background data on soil chemical and physical properties. Thus, the tillage treatments have only been applied for the last two years. Only agronomic performance will be reported at this time; the effect of the tillage practices on the other two objectives will take a number of years to discern. The tillage treatments were applied prior to seeding the cereal crops. During the growing season, the days to 100% crop emergence, plant populations, seeding depth, and yield, both at boot-stage and maturity were monitored. Of the soil parameters monitored, only soil moisture status at seeding and residue cover are reported. The tillage treatments did not significantly affect days to 100% emergence, boot-stage yield and grain yield. It was noted that seeding depth, although not affected by the tillage treatments, needs to be closely monitored. Soil moisture content at seeding was significantly higher with the minimum and zero-tillage treatment in the spring of 1999. In both years, residue cover was greatest with zero-tillage and least with conventional-tillage. Data to date suggests that zero and minimum tillage systems are comparable in agronomic performance to conventional tillage systems on the dykeland soils.

1Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Nappan, NS
2Cumberland County Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Nappan, NS
3Regional Office, NBDARD, Moncton, NB
4Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fredericton, NB
5Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Truro, NS
6Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kentville, NS
7Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Sackville, NB
8Ducks Unlimited Canada, Amherst, NS
9Nova Scotia Agricultural College

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