Stubble effects on crop microclimate and crop performance in a sub-humid prairie climate
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Stubble impacts crop microclimate in ways that have not been well-investigated, particularly in the context of crop establishment, growth and yield. In this study, the effects of different stubble heights on crop microclimate, biomass accumulation, and yield were investigated in the black soil , sub-humid climate of southwest Manitoba. Canola, pea, and wheat were sown across stubble treatments, comprised of cultivated wheat stubble, or stubble cut to a height of 10 or 30 cm in the spring of the cropping year. Plots were instrumented to monitor soil and canopy air temperature, near-surface soil moisture, wind speed, and reflected solar radiation during crop establishment. Results are discussed in the context of how changes in crop microclimate induced by stubble treatment affected crop performance. Tall stubble delayed day-time soil warming and night-time cooling, increased day-time canopy air temperature and decreased night-time air temperature, increased surface and sub-surface soil moisture, reduced wind speed near the soil surface, and increased crop canopy reflectance. These micro-climatic effects increased seedling emergence, vegetative biomass, but had minimal impact on final crop yield. The results suggest that maintenance of tall stubble should not result in a yield penalty, and may reduce input costs through reduced energy required in combining.
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