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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Overview
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1 - Cover Crops
2 - Conservation Tillage
3 - Organic Potato Production
4 - BioEnergy Research-Oilseeds: Biodiesel
5 - BioEnergy Research-Perennial Biomass Crops: Ethanol
6 - BioEnergy Research-Biochar
Conservation Tillage

Adoption of conservation tillage in irrigated potato cropping systems has been limited due to a perception of poor crop stands, increase in disease and pest problems and the high cost to replace equipment. Potato production in irrigated regions typically occurs on soils low in organic matter that is highly susceptible to wind erosion when soils are left bare. Reduced tillage has had limited testing in irrigated potato production. Problems encountered in reduced tillage systems have been reduced crop yield, difficulty in planting, difficulty in controlling weeds, increases in weed pressure, and difficulty in harvest.  Modern herbicides have largely overcome the inability to manage weeds with reduced cultivation in potatoes. Commercial potato planters, hilling equipment, and reservoir tillage equipment however, are not designed to handle large amounts of crop residues. Tillage is primarily used in potato production to control weeds, facilitate planting, and increase the ease of later cultivation and harvest.  Reduced tillage has had limited testing in potato production systems under center pivot irrigation. 

 

 

Reduced Tillage in Potato Production: We developed reduced tillage protocols for potato production using standard field equipment an irrigated sweet corn/sweet corn/potato rotation. The new tillage strategy reduced the total number of passes across the field from nine to six and soil disturbance operations from seven to four, including harvest. The eight year tuber yield average was not different between CT and RT, 37.2 and 36.4 T/acre, respectively.

Trace Gas Fluxes from Irrigated Sandy Soils within a Potato Based Crop Rotation: Nitrous oxide emissions accounted for 0.5% of the applied fertilizer to corn and 0.3% to potato; 60 and 76% lower, respectively, than the current estimated emissions factor of 1.25% used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The lower emissions were due to split applications (“spoon feeding”) of N-fertilizer through the center pivot irrigation system during the growing season. This study was conducted within the GRACEnet network. http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/programs/programs.htm?np_code=204&docid=17271

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Last Modified: 4/5/2012
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