Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Many producers are unaware of the benefits of conservation tillage and how conservation tillage can reduce input costs while maintaining or increasing crop yields. The effects of conventional moldboard tillage and conservation tillage were compared for cotton yields, production costs and net returns. Economics of cotton production and lint yields, as affected by tillage in a semi-aird, subtropical environment were examined over a three-year period on eighteen different producer fields. Each field was split and one-half was farmed using conventional tillage practices and one-half of each field was farmed using conservation tillage practices. Cotton lint yields averaged over the 18 producer fields had 110 lbs/acre more lint in conservation tillage than with the moldboard plow and disk system. Conservation tillage fields had, on average, $46/acre less field preparation costs from the harvest of the previous crop until the planting of the cotton crop. Net returns were $97/acre more in the conservation tillage fields when compared with the moldboard plow and disk system. Cotton produced using conservation tillage in a biannual grain sorghum rotation had lower input costs, greater crop yields, most of the time, and increased net returns when compared with the moldboard plow and disk system.
Technical Abstract: Adoption of conservation tillage for cotton production in south Texas has increased dramatically over the past few years, but there are still many producers unaware of the benefits. The climatic conditions and soil types of south Texas are quite different from the Southeastern United States where other producers have been successful with conservation tillage cotton. A greater knowledge of the benefits and risks of conservation tillage practices under a subtropical, semi-arid environment can help producers better evaluate tillage practices as a component of their farming operation. The objectives of this study were to compare the effects between conventional moldboard tillage and conservation tillage on cotton yields, production costs and net returns. Economics of cotton production and lint yields as affected by tillage in a semi-arid, subtropical environment, were examined over a three-year period on eighteen ndifferent producer fields. Six producer fields in 1997, five fields in 1998, and seven fields in 1999 were split and one-half of each was farmed using conventional tillage practices and one-half of each field was farmed using conservation tillage practices. Seeding rate, fertilizer, irrigation, insect management and other production factors were the same for both tillage systems. Average cotton lint yields in the conservation tillage fields in 1997, 1998 and 1999 were 137, 87, and 110 pounds greater than in the conventional tillage fields. In 1997, five of the six sites had equivalent or greater yields, four of five fields examined in 1998 had equivalent or greater yields, and in 1999 six of seven fields had equivalent or greater lint yields when conservation tillage was compared to conventional moldboard tillage.