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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Irrigated Cotton Response to Tillage Systems in the Tennessee Valley

Authors
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Shaw, Joey - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Reeves, Donald
item Burmester, Charles - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Curtis, Larry - AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Journal of Cotton Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 3, 2006
Publication Date: April 6, 2007
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Shaw, J.N., Reeves, D.W., Burmester, C.H., Curtis, L.M. 2007. Irrigated Cotton Response to Tillage Systems in the Tennessee Valley. Journal of Cotton Science. 11:2-11.

Interpretive Summary: Limited surface disturbance combined with a cover crop can improve cotton growth, however comparing plant and soil parameters across irrigated tillage systems has not investigated on fine-textured soils of the Tennessee Valley. Researchers from the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory and cooperators from the Agronomy and Soils and Agricultural Engineering Departments at Auburn University conducted a field experiment from 2001-2003 on a Decatur silt loam near Belle Mina, AL to examine how irrigation and tillage affect selected plant and soil measurements. Conventional tillage with and without deep tillage was compared to conservation tillage, including a rye cover crop, with and without deep tillage across four irrigation regimes (0, 2, 4, 6 gallons min-1). Tillage system and irrigation regime improved seed cotton yields two out of three years and leaf stomatal conductance one year. Conservation tillage, regardless of fall paratillage, produced 15% more whole plant biomass than conventional tillage one of three years, while an irrigation rate of 4 gallon min-1 maximized plant biomass two of three years. Leaf N concentrations were approximately 7% lower from the conservation tillage systems compared to the conventional tillage systems when averaged across all three years. Differences in soil water contents were only observed in 2001 with soil water contents 15% lower in the 0-20 cm depth following fall paratillage compared to no fall paratillage. These plant and soil measurements do not suggest any change from a conservation tillage system with a cover crop that is recommended for cotton production in the Tennessee Valley.

Technical Abstract: Minimizing surface soil disruption in conjunction with a cover crop can improve cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) growth compared to conventional tillage (CT), however comparing plant and soil parameters across irrigated tillage systems has not been investigated in the Tennessee Valley. A split-plot treatment structure in a randomized complete block design with three replications was utilized to examine how tillage systems [CT and no surface tillage (NST) with a cover crop both with and without fall paratillage] and irrigation regimes (0, 2.7, 5.4, 8.1 mm d-1) affect seed cotton yields, whole plant biomass, leaf nitrogen (N) concentrations, soil moisture contents at two depths, and leaf stomatal conductance on a Decatur silt loam during the 2001 to 2003 growing seasons. Main plots were tillage systems and subplots were irrigation regimes. Tillage system and irrigation regime improved seed cotton yields two out of three years and leaf stomatal conductance one year. The NST treatment, regardless of fall paratillage, produced 15% more whole plant biomass than the CT treatment one of three years, while an irrigation rate of 5.4 mm d-1 maximized plant biomass two of three years. Leaf N concentrations were approximately 7% lower from the NST systems compared to the CT systems when averaged across all three years. Differences in soil water contents were only observed in 2001 with soil water contents 15% lower in the 0-20 cm depth following fall paratillage compared to no fall paratillage. Higher soil moisture contents were observed in the CT system following paratillage, while soil moisture contents following no fall paratillage were higher in the NST system in the 20-40 cm depth. Results of these plant and soil measurements do not suggest any change from a conservation tillage system with a cover crop that is recommended for cotton production in the Tennessee Valley.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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