Cutforth, H. W., Angadi, S. V., McConkey, B. G., Miller, P. R., Ulrich, D., Gulden, R., Volkmar, K. M., Entz, M. H. and Brandt, S. A. 2013. Comparing rooting characteristics and soil water withdrawal patterns of wheat with alternative oilseed and pulse crops grown in the semiarid Canadian prairie. Can. J. Soil Sci. 93: 147-160. To improve sustainability and increase economic returns, producers in the semiarid Canadian prairie are diversifying their cropping systems to include alternative crops such as pulses and oilseeds in rotation with wheat. Producers must adopt crops and cropping systems that use water most efficiently. We compared the root systems and water withdrawal patterns for three pulse crops (leguminous grain crops) [chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), pea (Pisum sativum L.) and lentil (Lens culinaris Medik. L.)] and three oilseed crops [canola (Brassicanapus L. and Brassica rapa L.) and mustard (Brassica juncea L.)] with one cereal crop [wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)] under well-watered, rain-fed, imposed drought water regimes during 1996-1998. Wheat withdrew the most water, whereas pulses withdrew the least amount of water from the soil profile. Pulses withdrew substantially less water than oilseeds and wheat below about the 80-cm depth, whereas oilseeds withdrew less water than wheat from the upper regions of the soil profile, thus increasing soil water available to the following crops. Therefore, producers can increase the overall efficiency of a crop rotation by growing deeper rooting crops, such as wheat and canola, following pulses, and by growing crops, such as wheat, that will use the increased soil water reserves following canola.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2