Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2005
Publication Date: 9/1/2005
Citation: Buman, R.A., Alessi, B.A., Bradley, J.F., Hatfield, J.L., Karlen, D.L. 2005. Profit and yield of tillage in cotton production systems. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society. 60(5):235-242. Interpretive Summary: Conservation tillage in cotton production has been used on a small amount of the land area; however, it has shown an increase with the advent of Round-Up Ready® cotton in the United States. The increase in reduced tillage systems has raised questions about the impact on the soil properties, yield, and profit of these new management systems. A study was conducted across 12 sites in the cotton growing region in the United States to compare soil properties, yield, and profit among different tillage systems that ranged from no-till, reduced tillage, and conventional tillage systems. The different tillage systems did not cause a difference in soil properties because of the short time period of the study. There was no difference in lint yield among the different systems showing that reduced or no-till systems do not decrease yield. Profit from the reduced tillage systems was increased by an average of $25.00 per acre showing that no-tillage systems can increase the return to the producer. The research results over the 12 sites across the cotton production region provides information for producers to adopt reduced tillage systems without fear of reduced yield and a potential increase in profit.
Technical Abstract: Adoption of conservation tillage for cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) increased a modest 5.5% from 1992-1998 despite the evidence of the benefits to erosion control, soil health, and associated natural resources derived from conservation tillage. The Monsanto Centers of Excellence (COEs) were established to evaluate the potential benefits of conservation tillage across a range of soils and climates. Our objective is to summarize the results from field-scale studies conducted at 12 COE sites in seven states from 1998 through 2002. No-tillage, strip tillage, reduced tillage, and conventional tillage cotton production were evaluated in this study. All sites had a no-tillage and conventional tillage system, while eight of the 12 sites had a reduced tillage system and two of the 12 sites had a strip tillage system. Differences among tillage systems within a site did not show any significant effects of soil quality indicators. The variability within a site was quite large due to the limited number of samples collected at each location and the short-period of record covered by the study. Lint yield differences between no-tillage, strip tillage, reduced tillage, and conventional tillage systems were not significant. The 5-year average profit for the no-tillage system ranged from $17 to $164 ha**-1 ($7 to $66 ac**-1) higher than the other three systems. We conclude that farmers, crop consultants, and others should carefully consider overall profit rather than just crop yield when evaluating alternative tillage practices.