Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 4, 2008
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
Citation: Sassenrath, G.F., Fisher, D.K., Williford, J.R. Changes in Soil Moisture with Conservation Tillage in Cotton Production Systems. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference, January 8-11, 2008, Nashville, Tennessee. p. 181-182. Interpretive Summary: Use of conservation tillage practices may improve cotton crop yield and quality, and improve the return on investment of cotton production. Moreover, reductions in tillage and incorporation of cover crops have been shown to improve soil nutrients and water availability, reducing the supplemental irrigation needs. This study examines differences in soil nutrients and water availability following different tillage practices, and with incorporation of winter wheat cover crops into cotton production. We also measured changes in cotton fiber quality and yield for the different management practices. Treatments with winter wheat were found to require more water, rather than less as has been seen with rye as a cover crop. This may result from the lower biomass produced with winter wheat compared to rye.
Technical Abstract: Conservation tillage practices offer producers improved yields with reduced inputs. Changes in soil structure and hydrology result from the alteration of tillage practices. This study was undertaken to quantitate the changes in soil nutrients and water under various conservation production practices, and their resultant impact on cotton fiber quality and yield. We examined changes in tillage (subsoiling) and cover crop (winter wheat) on soil nutrients, electrical conductivity, and soil moisture during the growing season. Final yield and cotton fiber quality were determined for each production system, and used to determine total economic return.