Submitted to: Soil and Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/23/2006
Publication Date: 3/1/2007
Citation: Cullum, R.F., Wilson, G.V., Mcgregor, K.C., Johnson, J.R. 2007. Runoff and soil loss from ultra-narrow row cotton plots with and without stiff-grass hedges. International Journal of Soil and Tillage Research. 93(1):56-63.
Interpretive Summary: Ridged standard row cotton production on sloping lands produces little ground cover resulting in highly erodible land conditions. Cotton was planted in non-ridged narrow spaced rows up and down slope with and without grass hedges to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing soil erosion. Experiments showed growing cotton in non-ridged reduced row spaces resulted in sustainable crop yields and more ground cover that contributed to reduced soil erosion. Ultra narrow-row, non-ridged cotton conventional-tilled with hedges as well as no-till with and without hedges controlled annual soil losses to less than the 7 t/ha tolerance value. These results will be useful to extension personnel, action agencies involved in water quality planning, and to farmers who plan to control erosion to produce future cotton crops on similar sloping lands.
Technical Abstract: Grass hedges and no-till cropping systems reduced soil losses on standard erosion plots in ultra narrow-row (20 cm) cotton during a four-year study (1999-2002). No-till cotton with grass hedges, no-till cotton without grass hedges, conventional-till cotton with grass hedges, and conventional-till cotton without grass hedges produced four-year average annual soil losses of 1.8, 2.9, 4.0, and 30.8 t/ha, respectively, and produced four-year average runoff amounts of 226, 364, 338, and 738 mm, respectively. The annual ratio of soil loss for no-till ultra narrow-row cotton plots with grass hedges to those without hedges averaged 0.62. The annual ratio of soil loss for conventional-till plots with grass hedges to without hedges was 0.13. Averaged over all plots (with and without grass hedges), no-till plots reduced soil loss from conventional-till plots by 86%. No-till plots without grass hedges had 90% less soil loss than conventional-till plots without grass hedges. Grass hedges effectively reduced soil loss on erosion plots with similar cropping practices as compared to plots without hedges. Along with the reduced soil losses from no-till system as compared to conventional-till system, the no-till ultra-narrow row cotton system resulted in an average 0.2 t/ha yield increase as compared to the conventional-till system. Both reduced soil loss and increased crop yield are positive factors that the user should consider when adopting this cotton system. Other studies of contoured grass hedges on field-sized areas are being conducted to determine their applicability on larger areas with greater concentrations of runoff.