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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Crop Production Systems Research » Research » Research Project #427342

Research Project: Development of Productive, Profitable, and Sustainable Crop Production Systems for the Mid-South

Location: Crop Production Systems Research

2016 Annual Report


1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Optimize early soybean production system and associated pest management strategies for the Mid-Southern United States. Objective 2: Develop innovative cotton management approaches that will optimize physiological responses of the cotton plant to environmental factors so that it can make the most efficient use of production inputs to improve lint yield and fiber quality. Sub-objective 2.1: Quantify yield, fiber quality, growth and development for varying cotton plant population densities with adequate and less-than-adequate N fertilization, and under irrigated or dryland production. Sub-objective 2.2: Quantify yield, fiber quality, growth and development for varying cotton varieties grown in both twin-row and single-row planting patterns under irrigated or dryland production. Sub-objective 2.3: Assess benefits of transgenic and non-transgenic cotton-soybean rotation systems on soil properties, weeds, yield, and seed and fiber quality in the Mississippi Delta. Objective 3: Assess the benefits of new drought tolerant, multiple herbicide-resistant, and insect-resistant (stacked gene traits) in current or new production systems. Objective 4: Assess impacts of transgene and glyphosate applications on soil microbial communities, plant-microbe interactions, as well as plant health and productivity in corn and soybean. Objective 5: Identify new and/or alternative crops for the Mid-South, determine their potential, and develop management strategies for integration and production.


1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The purpose of this project is to develop productive, profitable, and sustainable crop production systems for three of the mid-southern major row crops (soybean, cotton, and corn) that increase yield, improve quality, and reduce production costs. Over the next five years, we will conduct customer-driven basic and applied research aimed at improving regional-specific cropping systems that are profitable, conserve natural resources, provide effective pest control, and make efficient use of production inputs. The specific production practices to be researched in these 3 major crops include row patterns and row spacing, seeding rates, new genotypes, nutrient management, crop rotations, irrigation, planting dates, and transgene and glyphosate effects on plant health and productivity of corn and soybean. In addition, alternative crops that could be produced using existing equipment and fit into rotation systems will be researched.


3. Progress Report:
The results of a 4-yr cotton-rotation study demonstrated that when cotton was grown following soybean, the plants were taller, the canopy intercepted more sunlight, and the lint yields were greater than when cotton was grown following cotton. This positive cotton response could be due to improved soil nitrogen levels or altered (improved) soil microbial populations after growing soybean. As producers shifts their production acreage among various crops to maximize short and long-term profits for their farming operations, they can expect to observe improved good and yield production when cotton is grown following soybean. The results from the agronomic, physiological, and crop culture studies gave insight to physiological mechanisms leading to cotton lint yield and fiber quality differences among diverse varieties and different cultural practices. Irrigation or sufficient soil moisture was necessary to get the most efficient use of nitrogen (N) fertilization and vice versa, regardless of the cotton seeding rate. Cotton grown in twin-row production system produced similar yields and fiber quality as cotton produced in the more traditional wide row pattern regardless of the irrigation regime or growth regulator applications. Field data collection on Maturity Group III soybean cultivars grown in early planting systems was successfully completed and laboratory analysis of harvested seed is in progress. A lack of drought due to substantial rainfall during the first growing season will necessitate a third growing season to complete the experiment on drought tolerant corn hybrids. Currently, the second planting has been made and data collection is underway. The initial experiment to evaluate grain sorghum hybrids, seeding rates, row-types, and irrigation of grain sorghum has been completed and published. Three more experiments are currently underway to determine the effects of 1) nitrogen rates and hybrids, 2) reduced seeding rates on yield and yield components, and 3) possible hybrid differences in resistance to sugarcane aphid, a new pest to appear in the crop. Assessment of glyphosate-resistant gene and glyphosate applications on soil microbial communities, plant-microbe interactions, as well as plant health and productivity in corn and soybean is underway. Soil and plant samples were collected and are being analyzed and manuscript on soybean is in preparation. A field experiment on guar (alternate crop for the mid-south) production was initiated in 2015 and is repeated in 2016.


4. Accomplishments
1. Cotton and soybean rotation. Fluctuating commodities prices and changes in farm program regulations have made it easier and often desirable for producers to shift the planting acreage among different crops. Many traditional cotton acres are now planted in corn or soybean because of either improved market prices for those grain crops or to achieve crop rotational goals. This scenario of shifting crop acreage means that on many acres cotton will be grown following a prior soybean. Because of a lack of knowledge about how cotton responds when grown after soybean, ARS scientists in the Crop Production Systems Research Unit at Stoneville, Mississippi conducted research to determine how the growth and development, yield, and fiber quality of cotton was affected when it was grown behind soybean rather than cotton. When cotton was grown following soybean, the plants were taller, the canopy intercepted more sunlight, and the lint yields were greater than when cotton was grown following cotton. This positive cotton response could be due to improved soil nitrogen levels or altered (improved) soil microbial populations after growing soybean. As producers shifts their production acreage among various crops to maximize short and long-term profits for their farming operations, they can expect to observe improved good and yield production when cotton is grown following soybean. Agronomists, crop physiologists, extension personnel, and consultants, will be able to utilize information from this research. Producers could use this research as an unbiased source of information to make crop allocation and cotton production decisions for their farming enterprises.

2. Cotton photosynthesis under high temperature. Higher temperatures, predicted from climate change scenarios, can limit photosynthesis, the process where plants convert sunlight into chemical energy for growth. Cotton yields could improve if cotton varieties photosynthesized at a higher rate. Identifying cotton varieties with superior photosynthesis and tolerance to higher temperatures would benefit cotton producers. A USDA-ARS scientist in the Crop Production Systems Research Unit at Stoneville, Mississippi evaluated the photosynthetic performance of cotton varieties when grown under normal or high temperature conditions. Six cotton varieties were grown in the field and photosynthetic parameters were measured on plots exposed to either a normal temperature regime or a slightly higher than normal temperature regime during the 2006 through 2008 growing seasons. None of the varieties photosynthetic rates were affected by the different temperature regimes, with the exception of PeeDee 3. This variety’s photosynthesis was lower under the higher temperature than the ambient temperature. Photosynthetic differences were detected among the varieties, which could potentially be utilized in breeding programs to develop improved varieties. Information from this research can be used by agronomists, crop physiologists, plant geneticists, consultants, and extension specialists.

3. Macro-nutrient uptake in irrigated soybean. Information on the uptake of macro-nutrients by irrigated soybean grown in the Early Soybean Production System common to the Midsouth would be helpful in making fertilizer recommendations, but it is currently unavailable. A USDA-ARS scientist has completed an experiment that determined the amount of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S content in the leaves, stems, pods, and seed throughout the season of three popular soybean varieties. Two sites were used, a sandy loam soil and a heavy clay. The nutrient concentrations in the plant tissue were found not to have changed from levels observed in old varieties evaluated over 50 to 75 years ago. However, total nutrient requirements per acre have increased due to higher yields that have resulted from improved genetics and cultural practices. This research found that a 48 bu/A seed yield will remove about 175 lbs/A of N, 16.5 lbs/A of P, 77 lbs of K, 15.5 lbs/A of Ca, 7.5 lbs/A of Mg, and 8.5 lbs/A of S. This information has potential for use by other scientists, crop consultants, extension personal and producers.


5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations:
None.


Review Publications
Abbas, H.K., Bellaloui, N., Bruns, H.A. 2016. Investigating Transgenic Corn Hybrids as a Method for Mycotoxin Control. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 7:44-54. doi: 10.4236/fns.2016.71006.
Pettigrew, W.T. 2015. Twin-row production of cotton genotypes varying in leaf shape. Journal of Cotton Science. 19:319-327.
Bellaloui, N., Bruns, H.A., Abbas, H.K., Mengistu, A., Fisher, D.K., Reddy, K.N. 2015. Effects of row-type, row-spacing, seeding rate, soil-type, and cultivar differences on soybean seed nutrition under US Mississippi Delta conditions. PLoS One. 10(6):e0129913. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129913.
Zhao, F., Guo, Y., Huang, Y., Reddy, K.N., Zhao, Y., Molin, W.T. 2015. Detection of the onset of glyphosate-induced soybean plant injury through chlorophyll fluorescence signal extraction and measurement. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing (JARS). 9(1):1-12.
Williams, M.M. II, Bradley, C.A., Duke, S.O., Maul, J.E., Reddy, K.N. 2015. Goss’s wilt incidence in sweet corn is independent of transgenic traits and glyphosate. Horticultural Science. 50:1791-1794.
Ribeiro, D.N., Nandula, V.K., Dayan, F.E., Rimando, A.M., Duke, S.O., Reddy, K.N., Shaw, D.R. 2015. Possible glyphosate tolerance mechanism in pitted morningglory (Ipomoea lacunosa L.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 63:1689-1697.
Bellaloui, N., Reddy, K.N., Mengistu, A. 2015. Drought and heat stress effects on soybean fatty acid composition and oil stability. Book Chapter. 45:377-380.
Nandula, V.K., Wright, A.A., Vah Horn, C., Molin, W.T., Westra, P., Reddy, K.N. 2015. Glyphosate resistance in giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida L.) from Mississippi is partly due to reduced translocation. American Journal of Plant Sciences. 6:2104-2113.
Pettigrew, W.T. 2016. Cultivar variation in cotton photosynthetic performance under different temperature regimes. Photosynthetica. DOI: 10.1007/s11099-016-0208-8.