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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY Title: Tillage requirements for vegetables following winter annual grazing

Authors
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Reeves, Donald
item Kemble, J - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Dawkins, R - AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Southern Conservation Agricultural Systems Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 25, 2007
Publication Date: June 25, 2007
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Reeves, D.W., Kemble, J.M., Dawkins, R.A. 2007. Tillage requirements for vegetables following winter annual grazing. In: Wright, D.L., Marois, J.J., Scanlon, K., editors. Proceedings of the 29th Southern Conservation Agricultural Systems Conference, June 25-27, 2007, Quincy, Florida. CD-ROM. Available at: http://www.ag.auburn.edu/auxiliary/nsdl/scasc/.

Interpretive Summary: In Alabama, over 400,000 ac of winter annuals are grazed prior to planting summer row crops. Previous research indicates that cattle grazed on ryegrass pastures over the winter months in Alabama can be profitable, but winter grazing creates excessive compaction, which adversely affects yields of subsequent summer crops. Scientists from the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, J. Phil Campbell Sr.- Natural Resource and Conservation Center, and Auburn Univ. initiated a study to determine the optimal tillage system for sweet corn, southern field pea, and watermelon production on a Wynnville fine sandy loam, in north central Alabama from 2001-2003. Three surface tillage treatments (chisel/disk/level, disk/level, no surface tillage) and three deep tillage treatments (no deep tillage, in-row subsoiling, paratill) were arranged in a factorial randomized complete block design with four replications. Each fall, all plots were planted to ryegrass and stocked with 3 cattle ac-1. Southern field pea yields responded to surface tillage following winter annual grazing with disking comparable to chisel and disking. Sweet corn yields responded to a combination of surface and deep tillage, although deep tillage produced similar yields to surface tillage during one growing season. Watermelon yields were maximized following winter annual grazing with only deep tillage alone without any surface tillage.

Technical Abstract: In Alabama, over 400,000 ac of winter annuals are grazed prior to planting summer row crops. Previous research indicates that cattle grazed on ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.) pastures over the winter months in Alabama can be profitable, but winter grazing creates excessive compaction, which adversely affects yields of subsequent summer crops. We initiated a study to determine the optimal tillage system for sweet corn (Zea mays, L.), southern field pea (Vigna unguiculata L.), and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.) production on a Wynnville fine sandy loam (Fine-loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic Glossic Fragiudults), in north central Alabama from 2001-2003. Three surface tillage treatments (chisel/disk/level, disk/level, no surface tillage) and three deep tillage treatments (no deep tillage, in-row subsoiling, paratill) were arranged in a factorial randomized complete block design with four replications. Each fall, all plots were planted to ryegrass and stocked with 3 cattle ac-1. Southern field pea yields responded to surface tillage following winter annual grazing with disking comparable to chisel and disking. Sweet corn yields responded to a combination of surface and deep tillage, although deep tillage produced similar yields to surface tillage during one growing season. Watermelon yields were maximized following winter annual grazing with only deep tillage alone without any surface tillage.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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