Submitted to: Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2002
Publication Date: 6/24/2002
Citation: Endale, D.M., Schomberg, H.H., Cabrera, M.L., Steiner, J.L., Radcliffe, D.E., Vencill, W.K., Lohr, L. 2002. Lint yield advantages of no-till and poultry litter-based cotton/rye cropping system in a southern piedmont soil: a five years data set. Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture.
Interpretive Summary: Cotton and poultry production are of great economic importance in the Southeast. Only about 20% of the cotton in the Southeast is under conservation tillage despite potentials of Conservation tillage to save producers money in the sort term and provide long term benefits for their land and the environment. Poultry manure is a good source of plant nutrients but only a small percentage of the large quantity produced annually is applied to crop land in the Southeast. We measured and compared lint yield over five years from no-till and conventionally-tilled cotton fertilized either with poultry manure or ammonium nitrate on a Cecil soil. The no-till and poultry manure-based cotton produced up to 50% more lint compared to conventionally-tilled and fertilized cotton. No-till cotton produced up to 34% more lint than conventionally-tilled cotton when both were fertilized with ammonium nitrate. These advantages occurred despite the fact that in two of the five years, water was moderately to severely limiting because of drought. Adoption of no-till and poultry manure as fertilizer in cotton production will in addition to enhancing yield create an outlet for the large manure produced from the poultry industry in the Southeast.
Technical Abstract: Cotton [Gossipium hirsutum (L.)] is a dominant crop in the Southeast. It is largely grown using conventional tillage and fertilizers. Georgia and bordering states produce about 42% of the poultry in the United States, but only a small percentage of the litter is utilized as fertilizer. We measured and compared cotton yield from conventional tillage (CT) and no-till (NT) plots fertilized either with ammonium nitrate, as conventional fertilizer (CF), or poultry litter (PL), from 1996 to 2000 near Watkinsville, GA. The soil was a Cecil sandy loam (Clayey, kaolinitic thermic Typic Kanhapludult), a dominant soil series in the Southern Piedmont. The four treatments CTCF, CTPL, NTCF, and NTPL were replicated three times on twelve nearly level (0-2% slope) 30 ft by 100 ft plots. Rye [Secale cereale (L.)] was the winter cover crop. Mean lint yields over five years in lb acre-1 were: 971 for NTPL, 915 for NTCF, 753 for CTPL, 686 for CTCF, 943 for NT, 719 for CT, 862 for PL, and 800 for CF. Statistically significant (P<=0.05) yield differences were: NTPL > CTCF by 42%, NTCF > CTCF by 34%, NTPL > CTPL by 29%, NTCF > CTPL by 22% and NT > CT by 31%. Drought during first bloom to peak bloom reduced yield and negated all treatment effects in the fourth year and reduced yield in the fifth year. It is possible to increase cotton productivity in the Southern Piedmont by adopting no-till and fertilizing with poultry litter instead of tilling and fertilizing conventionally.