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Norris and Robin Woodroof observe an application of poultry litter on a tarp
used in catching and measuring output for calibration of the precision poultry
litter applicator. Click the image for more information about
No-Till and Poultry Litter Can Help Cotton Weather
Drought By Sharon Durham January 5, 2006
Cotton growers in the southeastern United States can deal with
periodic droughts by using conservation tillage and fertilizing with poultry
litter, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report.
Endale and agroecosystems ecologist
Schomberg at the
J. Phil Campbell, Sr., Natural Resource Conservation Center in
Watkinsville, Ga., conducted a study that found no-till cotton fertilized with
poultry litter yielded 42 percent more than conventionally tilled cotton
fertilized with ammonium nitrate.
Using no-till practices alone increased yield by 33 percent over
conventional tillage practices, they found.
According to Endale, many soils in the southeastern states have low
water-holding capacity and form nearly impervious layers that restrict root
growth. If roots can't penetrate deeply enough to access soil water reserves,
the drought effect is worsened.
No-till cotton was able to capitalize on carry-over water in the soil,
faring better after being established. That helped it to survive into the
blooming phase. Conservation tillage protects the soil surface and allows more
rainwater to penetrate.
Long term use of practices such as no-till allows crop residue to
accumulate on soil surfaces, which helps build soil structure, increases
rainwater filtration, reduces evaporation, and increases the biological
activity that helps improve nutrient cycling.
The bottom line is that producers can increase their ability to
produce cotton during drought periods by implementing practices that help
conserve soil and protect the environment.
about this research in the January 2006 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.