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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tillage Method and Depth Effects on Furrow Irrigation Infiltration

Authors
item Allen, Ronald
item Musick, Jack

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In the Southern High Plains, soil tillage is performed between annual feed grain crops such as grain sorghum to loosen soil and mix stalk residue for improved irrigation water infiltration. Two tillage methods, chiseling with 1-foot spaced soil points and V-blade undercutting beneath the ground surface, were tested at depths of 6 and 10 inches at Bushland, TX. The deeper 10-inch tillage did increase irrigation infiltration by about 25% during the first irrigation after tillage, but there were only negligible differences with successive irrigations. Neither tillage method nor depth had noticeable affect on grain sorghum yield on the clay loam soil. However, the deeper 10-inch tillage required about 60% more tractor power and fuel. Also, chisel tillage required about 30% more power and fuel than the V-blade. This information can help irrigated crop producers with clay soils in the Southern High Plains choose more efficient tillage, thereby reducing production costs.

Technical Abstract: Methods of primary tillage between annual crops of corn or sorghum on the Southern High Plains commonly include disking or disking in combination with chiseling and occasional deeper loosening by ripping or moldboard plowing. This study was conducted during 1992-94 at Bushland, Texas to evaluate the effect of tillage method and depth on furrow irrigation infiltration, soil water storage, grain yield, and water use efficiency (WUE). Treatments included both chiseling and sweep undercutting to 150 and 250 mm (6 and 10 in.) depths. Extending tillage depth from 150 to 250 mm (6 to 10 in.) increased irrigation infiltration from 20 to 28% for the first application after primary tillage, but had little effect during successive irrigations. The deeper tillage increased power requirements by about 60%. Sweep tillage was as effective as the more common chiseling for soil loosening and required only about 75% as much power. Tillage method and depth did not significantly affect average sorghum yield or WUE in the years studied which received average to above average precipitation.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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