Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Much of the row crop agriculture in the Southeast, including cotton, is grown under conventional tillage with conventional fertilizer. However, adoption of reduced tillage and poultry litter as an alternative organic fertilizer is increasing. The performance of cotton under alternative tillage and fertilizer source is not well documented in the Southeast. We found in three years of research on a Cecil soil of Southern Piedmont near Watkinsville, GA that cotton performed better under no-tillage and when fertilized with poultry litter. Lint yield of no-tillage cotton exceeded that of conventional-tillage cotton by 30 percent over the three years. Yield differences were almost 50 percent between no-tillage-poultry-litter and conventional-tillage-ammonium-nitrate treated cotton. Above ground biomass measured in 1998 was also more for no-tillage over conventional- tillage (50%), and no-tillage-poultry-litter over conventional-tillage- ammonium-nitrate treated cotton(72%). Soil water use in the 0-60 cm depth was almost double for no-tillage compared to conventional-tillage cotton. Our research indicates that use of available soil water could be enhanced by adopting no-tillage and poultry litter fertilizer which can lead to higher yields and can provide additional insurance against crop failure during drought-prone periods which Southern Piedmont is prone to.
Technical Abstract: Cotton (Gossipium hirsutum L.) is a major crop in Georgia and is mostly grown under conventional-tillage with conventional inorganic fertilizers, such as ammonium nitrate. But reduced tillage is drawing increased attention nationwide as a viable production option. A growing poultry industry in Georgia is generating increased quantities of poultry litter, some of which can be used as an alternative organic fertilizer in crop production. This research was conducted to observe the performance and yield response of cotton planted with no-tillage and fertilized with poultry litter. Research was conducted for three years under a factorial arrangement of tillage (no-tillage vs conventional-tillage) and fertilizer (ammonium nitrate vs poultry litter) on a Cecil soil of Southern Piedmont near Watkinsville, GA. Lint yield from the no-tillage treatment exceeded that of conventional-tillage by about 30% (P=0.009) over three years. Yield from no-tillage, poultry litter-fertilized cotton exceeded that of conventional-tillage, ammonium nitrate-fertilized cotton by almost 50 percent (P=0.005). Cotton production in the Southern Piedmont could be improved by using no-tillage and poultry litter as fertilizer compared to conventional-tillage and ammonium nitrate as fertilizer.