Impacts of crop rotation and tillage practices on potato yield and revenue in northern New Brunswick, Canada
University of New Brunswick
This study investigated the effects of crop rotation and tillage practices on potato yield across nine farms and 72 fields in the Black Brook Watershed, northwestern New Brunswick, Canada, from 2006 to 2012. Specifically, a stochastic production function method was used to assess the manner in which five alternative crop rotations and three alternative tillage practices influenced mean, per acre, potato yields in each field along with other farm inputs, site characteristics, and climate factors. Overall, crop rotation and tillage practices had mixed effects on potato yield. For instance, with regard to crop rotations, a one potato in three year (l-in-3) rotation had the highest yield, followed by 2-in-3, 2-in-4, l-in-2 (the primary rotation system used by producers), and 3-in-4 rotations. On a comparable, 12-year horizon, a 2-in-3 rotation resulted in the largest present value revenue, followed by 3-in-4, 2-in-4, l-in-2, and l-in-3 rotations. Meanwhile, with regard to tillage practices, spring tillage had negative yield effects compared to fall tillage (the primary tillage practice), and the use of harrow and chisel plowing had positive yield effects. These findings indicate that the implementation of best management practices (e.g., spring tillage and l-in-3 rotations) often lead to lower yield and/or lower revenues and therefore need to be supported by governments through financial or other such incentives. Key words: Best management practices, conservation tillage, crop rotation, potato yield, Northwestern New Brunswick.