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50 years of rotation – Audio

50 years of rotation - Audio

Arin Crooks, Superintendent
Lancaster Agricultural Research Station
UW-Madison, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

3:09 – Total Time

0:20 – The study
0:46 – What’s in rotation
1:14 – Findings of the study
1:55 – The value
2:56 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: The effects of long-term crop rotation study, we’re visiting today with Arin Crooks superintendent Lancaster Agricultural Research Station, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Arin, you’ve got a long-term crop rotation study out here, tell us a little bit about it.

Arin Crooks: Long term crop rotation study, located here, began back in 1967 so it’s turning 50 years old this year it’s been a main stay of the Lancaster Research Station and looking at different crop rotations and its effects, especially particularly to the dirftless region of Wisconsin around the Mississippi valley here in southwest Wisconsin and other neighboring states.

Sevie Kenyon: What crops are in this crop rotation?

Arin Crooks: Well, the effects of the rotation study look specifically at the nitrogen fertilization of the corn, but in addition to some of those crop rotations besides continuous corn rotation, is corn and soybeans, wheat, oats and then alfalfa as well all in different combinations and rotations to see the different effects that it produces.

Sevie Kenyon: What are some of the most significant findings that this long-term research has turned up?

Arin Crooks:  Well probably the most significant finding for Wisconsin, as well as across the U.S., was how many pounds of nitrogen credit you can take growing corn after you’ve had establishment of alfalfa. So originally, the crop rotation study was looking at the potential of replacing alfalfa with commercial fertilizer in the 60s when fertilizer was cheap, but as the fertilizer prices became expensive in the 70s then the interest in the study actually turned to more sustainability and sustainable rotations and one of the major findings was that benefit of nitrogen produced by the alfalfa legume crop.

Sevie Kenyon: Arin, what’s the value of this kind of research?

Arin Crooks: It’s the second oldest crop rotation study that we know of in the country, the University of Illinois has the oldest but, the benefit of having a long term study like this is it provides a resource for lots of research whether that is soil fertility, soil structure, other environmental impacts, carbon fixation, things like that. It’s a resource that a lot of different researchers can come to and do additional research projects off of. As well as, it’s a resource that’s there when conditions change, can incorporate a different crop or something different as they talk about having a living document for a will or things like that, this is almost like a living research project that it changed slightly through the years as it’s gone as conditions have dictated and interests have grown to help provide those answers that we may not know what the questions are yet, but down the road we’ll have the tools that will be able to produce those answers.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Arin Crooks, superintendent Lancaster Agricultural Research Station, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.