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7018. USDA Agricultural Research Service. 1974. Summer fallow in the western United States.. Conservation Research Report #17.
This is an excellent summary of the research to date on the impact of summer fallow on dryland cropping. Each chapter covers a separate geographic region, and uses the following categories: introduction, climate, soils, cropping practices, water conservation, erosion, water, soil fertility, crop yields, summary. In general, research points to the feasibility of eliminating summer fallow in certain areas where moisture storage efficiency is extremely low and N needs can now be met with fertilizer. Summer fallow is beneficial in many cases in terms of yield stability and can protect the soil from erosion by guaranteeing a crop and adequate residue cover. The need for a flex cropping system is stressed as a way to maximize water use efficiency. In the great basin area of Utah, summer fallow has a clear yield advantage over continuous cropping. Reduction in tillage operations can help minimize the destructive effects of summer fallow on soil organic matter and structure. This report is clearly written and full of solid information and references.