Data from: Field-scale experiments reveal persistent yield gaps in low-input and organic cropping systems
Kravchenko, Alexandra N., Michigan State University
Snapp, Sieglinde S., Michigan State University
Robertson, G. Philip, Michigan State University
Published Feb 02, 2018 on Dryad.
Cite this dataset
Kravchenko, Alexandra N.; Snapp, Sieglinde S.; Robertson, G. Philip (2018). Data from: Field-scale experiments reveal persistent yield gaps in low-input and organic cropping systems [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gh90f5f
Knowledge of production-system performance is largely based on observations at the experimental plot scale. Although yield gaps between plot-scale and field-scale research are widely acknowledged, their extent and persistence have not been experimentally examined in a systematic manner. At a site in southwest Michigan, we conducted a 6-y experiment to test the accuracy with which plot-scale crop-yield results can inform field-scale conclusions. We compared conventional versus alternative, that is, reduced-input and biologically based–organic, management practices for a corn–soybean–wheat rotation in a randomized complete block-design experiment, using 27 commercial-size agricultural fields. Nearby plot-scale experiments (0.02-ha to 1.0-ha plots) provided a comparison of plot versus field performance. We found that plot-scale yields well matched field-scale yields for conventional management but not for alternative systems. For all three crops, at the plot scale, reduced-input and conventional managements produced similar yields; at the field scale, reduced-input yields were lower than conventional. For soybeans at the plot scale, biological and conventional managements produced similar yields; at the field scale, biological yielded less than conventional. For corn, biological management produced lower yields than conventional in both plot- and field-scale experiments. Wheat yields appeared to be less affected by the experimental scale than corn and soybean. Conventional management was more resilient to field-scale challenges than alternative practices, which were more dependent on timely management interventions; in particular, mechanical weed control. Results underscore the need for much wider adoption of field-scale experimentation when assessing new technologies and production-system performance, especially as related to closing yield gaps in organic farming and in low-resourced systems typical of much of the developing world.
The file “kravchenko_2017_pnas_field_scale.xlsx” consists of six worksheets that contain: the agronomic yields for corn, soybean, and wheat from one field-scale experiment and two plot-scale experiments for the period 2007-2012; precipitation data over the study period; and the analysis of deep soil cores from the field-scale experiment.
National Science Foundation, Award: NSF 1027253
KBS LTER Scale-Up Experiment
KBS LTER Main Cropping System Experiment
KBS Living Field Lab
Kellogg Biological Station Michigan State University