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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Winter Annual Grazing and Tillage System Effects on Sweet Corn Production

Authors
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Reeves, Donald
item Kemble, J - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Dawkins, R - ALABAMA AG. EXP. STATION

Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 9, 2004
Publication Date: June 9, 2004
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., D.W. Reeves, J.M. Kemble, R.A. Dawkins. 2004. Winter annual grazing and tillage system effects on sweet corn. p. 205-208. In D.L. Jordan and D.F. Caldwell (ed.) Proc. 26th Southern Conser. Tillage Conf. Sustainable Agric., Raleigh, NC. 8-9 June 2004. North Carolina Agric. Res. Serv. Tech. Bull. No. TB-321. (Conference Proceedings).

Interpretive Summary: Winter annual grazing can supplement vegetable grower income, but can also decrease vegetable yields as a result of cattle walking on and compacting the soil. Researchers from the Conservation Systems Research Unit of the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in cooperation with Auburn University initiated a study to determine the optimal tillage system for sweet corn production on a Wynnville fine sandy loam in north central Alabama from 2001-2003. A combination of three surface tillage treatments (chisel/disk/level, disk/level, no surface tillage) and three deep tillage treatments (no deep tillage, in-row subsoiling, paratill) with four replications were administered to plots planted to ryegrass cv. 'Marshall' each fall. Winter annual grazing generated a profit over the 3 yr period of $268.75 ac-1 minus labor. Both surface tillage treatments increased yields compared to no surface tillage each year. Deep tillage treatments produced higher yields than no deep tillage in 2003. Leaf temperatures differences of less than 2 F° were observed between surface and deep tillage treatments in 2001 and 2002. Differences of 1/16' were observed in average ear diameters between surface tillage treatments in 2001 and 2002 and between deep tillage treatments in 2002. Preliminary results indicate that a combination of surface and deep tillage is required for sweet corn producers to maximize yields following winter annual grazing.

Technical Abstract: Winter annual grazing can supplement vegetable grower income, but can also decrease vegetable yields through excess soil compaction. We initiated a study to determine the optimal tillage system for sweet corn (Zea mays, L.) production on a Wynnville fine sandy loam (Fine-loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic Glossic Fragiudults), in north central Alabama from 2001-2003. A factorial arrangement in a randomized complete block design of three surface tillage treatments (chisel/disk/level, disk/level, no surface tillage) and three deep tillage treatments (no deep tillage, in-row subsoiling, paratill) with four replications were administered to plots planted to ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.) cv. 'Marshall' each fall. Winter annual grazing generated an average net income over the 3 yr period of $268.75 ac-1 minus labor. Both surface tillage treatments were superior to no surface tillage each year. In-row subsoiling produced higher fresh corn ear weights in 2001, while both deep tillage treatments produced higher yields than no deep tillage in 2003. Leaf temperatures differences of less than 2 F° were observed between surface and deep tillage treatments in 2001 and 2002. Differences of 1/16' were observed in average ear diameters between surface tillage treatments in 2001 and 2002 and between deep tillage treatments in 2002. Preliminary results indicate that a combination of surface and deep tillage is required to maximize sweet corn yields following winter annual grazing.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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