Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/7/2005
Publication Date: 5/1/2006
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Reeves, D.W., Shaw, J.N., Burmester, C.H., Curtis, L.M. 2006. Cotton yield and fiber quality from irrigated tillage systems in the tennessee valley. Agronomy Journal. 98:596-602.
Interpretive Summary: Limited research has been conducted to examine relationships between tillage systems and irrigation on cotton yields and fiber quality. Researchers from the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory and cooperators from the Agronomy and Soils and Agricultural Engineering Departments at Auburn University conducted a field experiment from 2001-2003 in the Tennessee Valley region near Belle Mina, AL on a Decatur silt loam to examine how irrigation levels and tillage systems affect cotton yields and selected fiber properties. Conventional tillage with and without deep tillage was compared to conservation tillage, including a rye cover crop, with and without deep tillage across four irrigation levels (0, 2, 4, 6 gallons min-1). Conservation tillage increased lint yields 13% in 2003, while irrigation increased yields 46% and 32% over non-irrigated yields in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Small differences were detected between tillage systems among all fiber properties, primarily in 2002, while irrigation levels affected length, micronaire, and uniformity. Deep tillage had no significant effect on any measured variable. Growers in the Tennessee Valley with access to irrigation cam utilize a conservation system with a cover crop to improve cotton yields and positively influence fiber properties, also eliminating the need for deep tillage.
Technical Abstract: Limited research has been conducted to examine interactive effects of surface tillage, deep tillage, conservation tillage, and irrigation on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) yields and fiber quality. We conducted a field experiment from 2001-2003 with a split-plot treatment structure in a randomized complete block design with three replications in the Tennessee Valley near Belle Mina, AL on a Decatur silt loam (fine, kaolinitic, thermic Rhodic Paleudults) to examine how irrigation levels and tillage systems affect ginning percentage, lint yield, and fiber quality (length, micronaire, strength, uniformity). Main plots were a factorial combination of CT (conventional tillage) with and without a fall paratill operation and NST (no surface tillage) following a rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop with and without a fall paratill operation. Subplots were irrigation levels (0, 7.6, 15.1, 22.7 L min-1). Ginning percentage increased 2% following CT one of three years (2002), while irrigation improved ginning percentage two of three years (2002 and 2003). The NST systems increased lint yields 13% in 2003, while irrigation increased yields 46% and 32% over non-irrigated yields in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Significant differences were detected among all fiber properties between tillage systems, primarily in 2002, while irrigation levels affected length, micronaire, and uniformity, although inconsistently, in 2002 and 2003. Fall paratilling had no effect on any measured variable, except for an inconsistent difference between tillage systems for uniformity. An irrigated conservation system, utilizing a cover crop, can improve cotton yields and positively influence fiber characteristics in the Tennessee Valley. However, unlike dryland cotton production, deep tillage is not required for irrigated cotton in the region.