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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Conservation Systems for Cotton Production in Central Alabama

Authors
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Arriaga, Francisco
item Donoghue, Ann

Submitted to: International Soil Tillage Research Organization Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 28, 2006
Publication Date: August 28, 2006
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Arriaga, F.J., Raper, R.L. 2006. Conservation systems for cotton production in central alabama. In: Sustainability - Its Impact on Soil Management and Environment, Proceedings of 17th International Conference of the International Soil Tillage Research Organization, August 28 - September 3, 2006, Kiel, Germany. p. 462-466.

Interpretive Summary: Soils with low organic matter are susceptible to soil compaction, which inhibits cotton root development and subsequent nutrient and water uptake. Scientist at the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory initiated a field experiment in 2003 on a Lucedale fine sandy loam to determine how conservation tillage systems and winter cover crops affect yields and moisture availability. Treatments consisted of tillage systems (no tillage, fall paratill, spring paratill, and spring strip tillage) and winter cover crops (no cover, rye, and wheat). Lint yields were measured and soil moisture was monitored continuously during the growing season. In 2004, results indicate that tillage had no effect on lint yields, while rye and wheat increased lint yields 12 and 5% compared to no cover. Soil moisture contents were generally 5% higher than soil moisture contents measured from no cover plots. In 2005, some form of tillage, which kept surface residue in place, was superior to no-tillage. Lint yields across cover crops averaged 1512 kg ha-1 for wheat, 1444 kg ha-1 for rye, and 1299 kg ha-1 for no cover. Trends in soil moisture contents across tillage systems and covers were similar to 2004, but not as dramatic. These results indicate that Central Alabama cotton growers will benefit from using a high residue cover crop on the degraded soils of the region.

Technical Abstract: Soils with low organic matter are susceptible to soil compaction, which inhibits root development and subsequent nutrient and water uptake. Previous surveys have identified fields with low organic matter contents and shallow compacted zones in the cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production region of central Alabama, USA. We initiated a field experiment in 2003 on a Lucedale fine sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Arenic Paleudult) to determine how conservation tillage systems and winter cover crops affect yields and moisture availability. Treatments were a factorial combination of tillage systems (no tillage, fall paratill, spring paratill, and spring strip tillage) and winter cover crops [no cover, rye (Secale cereale L.), and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)] in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Soil moisture was monitored continuously during the growing season to a depth of 30 cm. In 2004, results indicate that tillage had no effect on lint yields, while rye and wheat increased lint yields 12 and 5% compared to no cover. Soil moisture contents were generally 5% higher than soil moisture contents measured from no cover plots. In 2005, some form of non-inversion tillage was superior to no-tillage. Lint yields across cover crops averaged 1512 kg ha-1 for wheat, 1444 kg ha-1 for rye, and 1299 kg ha-1 for no cover. Trends in soil moisture contents across tillage systems and covers were similar to 2004, but not as dramatic. These results indicate that a high residue cover crop is required on degraded soils of central Alabama to maximize lint yields and soil moisture.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014