Effect of burning alfalfa stubble for insect pest control on seed yield

B. D. Schaber, J. F. Dormaar, T. Entz


Burning alfalfa (Medicago sativa (L.) stubble in the spring has been shown to be effective in reducing some insect pest populations. A study was conducted to detennine the long-tenn effect of this practice on seed yield. Plots were established at Lethbridge, Alberta, and burned in the spring or fall at various heights of plant growth from 1983 to 1989, with one half of each plot treated annually with insecticides when the pest insects were in their most vulnerable stage. Yields from burned treatments were not significantly different from unburned ones for the years 1983 to 1986, and 1988. In 1987, treatments burned in the fall had significantly higher yields than other treatments. Burning at 15-20 cm of growth significantly reduced yield compared to burning before spring growth. In 1989, yields from plots burned at 15-20 cm of growth were significantly lower than those burned every fall or spring. Insecticide treated plots had significantly higher yields in all years except 1983. Burning in the fall, or in the spring before growth, increased gross economic returns, but insecticide treatment gave the highest returns.

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