Wheat-fallow system is a prominent cropping system in Eastern New Mexico. Fallowing is practiced in cropping system to conserve water and soil nutrients. But it has negative consequences, for instance, increased soil erosion and opportunity cost are some. Cover crops, which are planted in the period between the main crops, are practiced instead of fallowing in the various cropping system, with expectations of added benefit.
The integration of cover crops in the cropping system brings both benefit and cost (Snapp et al 2005). Improvement in the soil and water quality attributes, improvement of N content and leaching (Wyland et al. 1996; Weinert et al. 2002), soil carbon increment and weed control (Sainju et al. 2002), GHG reduction (Coreil 2016), improvement on beneficial microbial population (Calderon et al. 2016), decreased erosion (Langdale et al 1991) , increased yield (Ebelhar et al. 1984; SARE and CTIC 2014; Rothrock and Kendig 1991; Nielsen et al. 2015), reduced chemical use (Lazarus and White 1984) are some positive benefits. It has such a promising benefits that the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service promotes it’s use for the soil health benefits through incentives (USDA-NRCS 2015; SARE 2015). Establishment costs (Labarta et al. 2002), termination costs (Griffin and Hesterman 1991; Vn et al. 1999), decreased yield (Unger et al. 2006) and reduced income (due to interference to the promising crops), pests harboring, soil warming, bizarre and risky returns (Adusumilli, 2016). and increased production cost are negative attributes. Holman, Roberts, and Maxwell (2016) stated cover crops have no any significant effect in increasing the wheat and sorghum grain yield.
Thus, there lies various controversy and debate on types and practices of incorporating cover crops (Adusumilli, 2016); also evidenced by the literature in above paragraph. At the same time, there is not any significant study in case of semi-arid Eastern New Mexico farming condition. Therefore, there lies a question to find the best cover crops alternative which maximizes/optimizes the net returns from the wheat-fallow cropping systems in the area. In addition, to clarify this dilemma, we have created different unique treatments of cover crops and did the analysis. Analysis is done to find the treatment that gives promising returns of successive wheat cropping.
In this study, we investigate Wheat crop returns for each cover crop treatment, instead of fallowing, along with ranking the riskiness of each cover crop treatment on business decisions. We use data from experimental setup (in RCBD design), for cover crops effect study, in Eastern New Mexico (Clovis). We begin with simple profitability and cost-benefit analysis of purposed cover crops interventions. This shows the benefit of each system based on sample observations. First, the gross return of some of the cover crops is higher than fallowed ones. But after accounting the cost of establishment, the resulting net benefit is higher for 6XM crop treatment. After that, we analyze the riskiness of systems, followed by a sensitivity analysis. Moreover, our findings also show a method and information about risk ranking of crop improving factors in experimental setup.