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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Diverse cropping systems enhanced yield but did not improve yield stability in a 52-year long experiment

St-Martin, Audrey; Vico, Giulia; Bergkvist, Goran; Bommarco, Riccardo


Farm specialization and associated simplification of the crop rotation raise concern about the ability of cropping systems to deliver high and stable yield in the long-term. Exploiting data from 52 years of a long-term experiment in Southern Sweden, we investigated impacts of three conventional cropping systems ('crop-livestock', 'specialized', and 'diverse') on yield levels and stability of winter and spring wheat. For winter wheat, the 'diverse' and 'crop-livestock' systems enhanced yields by 15% compared to the 'specialized' system. For spring wheat, the 'crop-livestock' system tended to show higher yield than the 'diverse' one. The stability analysis showed that in winter wheat the three systems lead to equally stable yields considering year-to-year variability. For spring wheat, the 'crop-livestock' system tended to perform better in favorable years relative to the other systems. Overall, the results revealed that for winter wheat cultivation, stockless diverse cropping provides an valid alternative to crop-livestock in the context of specialized fanning where crop and livestock are separated.


Diversification; Farm specialization; Crop rotation; Yield stability; Long-term experiment

Published in

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
2017, Volume: 247, pages: 337-342