chapter  Chapter 28
10 Pages

Management of Dryland Agroecosystems in the Central Great Plains of Colorado

WithG.A. Peterson, D.G. Westfall

The wheat-fallow system has contributed greatly to the degradation of the Central Great Plains’ agroecosystem, even though it has provided temporary economic stability to the area. A. D. Halvorson and A. L. Black have shown that fallowing has created “saline seeps” in some areas with subsequent degradation of the soil. Cropping systems with fewer months of summer fallow increased annualized total biomass production in most situations. Wheat fallow has been extremely productive at the medium evapotranspiration site on summit and sideslope soils and therefore the net improvement of more crops and less summer fallow is lessened. The most critical water storage period in the 3-and 4-year rotations is the summer, fall, and winter after wheat harvest just prior to corn or sorghum planting. Comparison of the total amount present at harvest of a crop with amount remaining after fallow provide an assessment of decomposition rates.