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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS FROM MULTIUSE AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES TO FAMILY FARMS

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Effects of easter Arkansas production systems on soil strength and electrical conductivity

Authors
item Donoghue, Ann
item Snider, John
item Teague, Tina -
item Kulkarni, Subodh -

Submitted to: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Series
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: March 31, 2011
Publication Date: March 31, 2011
Citation: Raper, R.L., Snider, J.L., Teague, T.G., Kulkarni, S.S. 2011. Effects of easter Arkansas production systems on soil strength and electrical conductivity. Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Series 589. 171-175.

Interpretive Summary: Eastern Arkansas cotton-growing soils present specific soil management problems exacerbated by the large percentage of clay content present in these soils. Traditional management of Eastern Arkansas soils has been to use extensive tillage systems that require large equipment and frequent field trips, thereby increasing soil susceptibility to compaction, increasing soil losses due to runoff, and accelerating organic matter decomposition. In this study, the use of reduced tillage and cover crops to improve soil physical properties was evaluated. Soil compaction levels were sufficient to reduce root growth in all systems studied, but cover crops provided a slight benefit by increasing the depth at which root restriction would occur. Using cover crops in association with conservation tillage methods may improve cotton yields by allowing roots to grow to deeper levels within the soil.

Technical Abstract: Eastern Arkansas cotton-growing soils are especially susceptible to soil compaction due to the large percentage of clay content present in these soils and the use of extensive tillage systems that require large equipment and frequent field trips. In this study, the effect of reduced tillage and cover crops on soil properties was evaluated. To this end, an experiment was in place at Judd Hill Plantation in Eastern Arkansas for three years to compare three tillage systems: (1) conventional tillage system, (2) reduced-tillage system, and (3) reduced-tillage system with a cover crop. Soil measurements included cone index and electrical conductivity. Root-limiting cone index measurements were observed in all systems studied; however, cover crops provided a slight benefit by increasing the depth at which root restriction would occur. There was no effect of tillage system on electrical conductivity. Using cover crops in association with conservation tillage methods may improve cotton yields by increasing the depth of the root impeding layer.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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