A farming systems study conducted by South Dakota State University (SDSU) at the Northeast Research Station (near Watertown, SD) was aimed at comparing conventional, reduced tillage, and organic ("alternative") farming systems over the period 1986-1992. Farming Systems Study I (FSSI), which emphasized row crops, compared an Alternative system, which uses no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, to Conventional and Ridge Till rotation systems. Oats (which are harvested and also serve as a nurse crop for alfalfa), alfalfa harvested for hay, soybeans, and corn (in that order) were included in the 4-year Alternative rotation. The alfalfa was harvested for only one year (the year after underseeding in oats) in this system. Com, soybeans, and spring wheat (in that order) were included in both the Conventional and Ridge Till 3-year rotations. Fertilizer and herbicides in the Conventional and Ridge Till systems were applied at rates recommended by the SDSU Plant Science Department.
A "normalized" version of the N.E. Research Station study was done prior to this report. This report took the Conventional and Ridge Till systems in FSSI from the "normalized" N.E. Research Station study and designed them to include alfalfa in their rotations to make comparisons between a baseline system, where only the Alternative rotation includes alfalfa, and "designed" systems in which alfalfa is included in the Conventional and Ridge Till systems. This Normalized budget was derived by using "typical" machine operations from the 1986-1992 time period. Further explanation of the Normalized budget is found in Annex A.
Henning, Lon and Dobbs, Thomas L., "Contribution of Alfalfa to Whole-farm Profitability of Farming Systems in Northeast South Dakota" (1993). Economics Research Reports. 84.