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Agronomic and Economic Performance of Maize, Soybean, and Wheat in Different Rotations during the Transition to an Organic Cropping System

1
Unit of Soil and Crop Sciences, School of Integrated Plant Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2
Northwestern New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8090192
Received: 14 August 2018 / Revised: 7 September 2018 / Accepted: 14 September 2018 / Published: 17 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cropping Systems)
Crop producers transitioning to an organic cropping system must grow crops organically without price premiums for 36 months before certification. We evaluated red clover-maize, maize-soybean, and soybean-wheat/red clover rotations in organic and conventional cropping systems with recommended and high inputs in New York, USA to identify the best rotation and management practices during the transition. Organic compared with conventional maize with recommended inputs in the maize-soybean rotation (entry crop) averaged 32% lower yields, $878/ha higher production costs, and $1096/ha lower partial returns. Organic maize compared with conventional maize with recommended inputs in the red clover-maize rotation (second transition crop) had similar yields, production costs, and partial returns. Organic compared with conventional soybean with recommended inputs in soybean-wheat/red clover or maize-soybean rotations had similar yields, production costs, and partial returns. Organic compared with conventional wheat with recommended inputs in the soybean-wheat/clover rotation had similar yields, $416/ha higher production costs, and $491/ha lower partial returns. The organic compared with the conventional soybean-wheat/red clover rotation had the least negative impact on partial returns during the transition. Nevertheless, all organic rotations had similar partial returns ($434 to $495/ha) so transitioning immediately, regardless of entry crop, may be most prudent. High input management did not improve organic crop yields during the transition. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic cropping system; maize; soybean; wheat; partial returns organic cropping system; maize; soybean; wheat; partial returns
MDPI and ACS Style

Cox, W.J.; Hanchar, J.J.; Cherney, J. Agronomic and Economic Performance of Maize, Soybean, and Wheat in Different Rotations during the Transition to an Organic Cropping System. Agronomy 2018, 8, 192.

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