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Economic comparison of three winter wheat-fallow tillage systems



Economic comparison of three winter wheat-fallow tillage systems



Journal of Production Agriculture 7(3): 381-385



Economic information is needed to evaluate the sustainability of tillage systems used for winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in the Central Great Plains. This study compared the potential economic returns of conventional stubble-mulch tillage (CT), reduced-till (RT), and no-till (NT) winter wheat production systems using estimated farmer costs or custom costs. Grain yields were not significantly different between tillage systems from 1987 through 1992 with 6-yr average grain yields of 40, 40, and 42 bu/acre for the CT, RT, and NT systems, respectively. Preharvest costs were highest for NT while RT and CT costs were virtually the same when using farmer based costs. Using custom rates, preharvest costs were in the order CT gt NT gt RT. Returns above production costs were in the order RT gt CT gt NT when using farmer based costs and an average yield of 40.4 bu/acre for all tillage systems. Returns above production costs were in the order RT gt NT gt CT when using custom rates. Using farmer estimated costs of production, estimated net returns to land, labor, capital, management, and risk were 107 and 95% of the CT system for RT and NT systems, respectively. When labor costs were included, net returns to land, capital, management, and risk were Ill and 100% of CT for the RT and NT systems, respectively. When custom rates were used for the tillage practices, net returns to land, labor, and capital were 123 and 110% of CT for the RT and NT systems, respectively. If costs or application rates of herbicides could be reduced, the NT system would become even more economically competitive with the other tillage systems. Because the cost variations between tillage systems are minimal, the added benefits of increased precipitation storage efficiency and decreased soil erosion potential with RT and NT must be considered when selecting a tillage system.

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