The northern great plains have long been dominated by conventional tillage systems and cereal-based rotations including summer fallow. Over the last decade, however, the use of conservation tillage systems has markedly increased and, through improved moisture storage, has provided an opportunity for more diversified extended rotations including oilseed, pulse, and forage crops throughout the region. Considerable research is being carried out to assess the adaptability of these new crops and to develop appropriate management strategies. Typically, this type of agronomic research is carried out at plot-sized research sites, with the findings then being extrapolated to surrounding regions where growing conditions are thought to be reasonably similar. Because the environment itself largely dictates the success of a particular cropping system, extrapolation requires knowledge of the environmental conditions of the region and, in particular, the interaction of environmental components of soil and climate in relation to specific crop requirements. This paper describes 14 agroecoregions in the northern great plains and provides an initial framework for extrapolating agronomic information at broad regional scales. Because climate is the dominant crop production factor in the region, most of the agroecosystems represent broad climatic zones. Each agroecoregion is described in terms of its soil and landscape characteristics, with a particular focus being given to likely key environmental parameters related to the production of the new oilseed, pulse, and forage crops being introduced in the region.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science