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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Raper, Randy
item Reeves, Donald
item Shaw, Joey
item Van Santen, Edzard
item Mask, Paul

Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/7/2004
Publication Date: 6/7/2004
Citation: Raper, R.L., Reeves, D.W., Shaw, J.N., Van Santen, E., Mask, P.L. 2004. Site-specific tillage benefits on coastal plains soils. In: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture, June 7-9, 2004, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Interpretive Summary: Subsoiling is the tillage operation that is conducted to eliminate a compacted soil layer and allow proper root growth for field crops. However, much energy is wasted by subsoiling either too deeply where excessive soil is disturbed and tractor fuel is wasted or by subsoiling too shallow where the compacted soil layer is left intact. An experiment was conducted in east-central Alabama on a Coastal Plain soil to evaluate the concept of site-specific subsoiling, where the depth of tillage is adjusted to match the depth of compaction. The results of this experiment prove that site-specific subsoiling produces corn and cotton yields equivalent to those produced by uniform deep subsoiling while reducing the amount of fuel necessary for the subsoiling operation. Producers able to use this technology should be able to save fuel for this site-specific subsoiling operation as well as protect the environment by minimally disturbing the soil.

Technical Abstract: The negative impacts of soil compaction on crop yields can often be alleviated by subsoiling. However, this subsoiling operation is often conducted at unnecessarily deep depths where it wastes energy and disturbs surface residue necessary for erosion control and soil quality. A corn (Zea mays L.)-cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) rotation experiment was conducted for four years on a Coastal Plain soil with a hardpan in east-central Alabama to evaluate the potential for site-specific subsoiling (tilling just deep enough to eliminate the hardpan layer) to improve crop yields and conserve energy. Both crops showed benefits of subsoiling as compared to the no-subsoiling treatment. Site-specific subsoiling produced yields equivalent to deep subsoiling treatment while not excessively disturbing surface soil and residues.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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