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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #217907

Title: Alabama's Old Rotation: The World's Oldest, Continuous Cotton Experiment

item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/4/2007
Publication Date: 11/8/2007
Citation: Mitchell, C., Delaney, D., Balkcom, K.S. 2007. Alabama's Old Rotation: The World's Oldest, Continuous Cotton Experiment[abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. CDROM

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In the late 19th Century, most of the South was devoted to cotton production. Few soil amendments were used and crop rotation and soil conservation were unknown. A young professor at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University), J.F. Duggar, started an experiment near campus in 1896 to test his theory that “. . . Alabama Agriculture will come unto its own when its fields are green in winter.” Today, Professor Duggar's 13 plots on 1 acre (0.405 ha) of land continue to provide valuable information on practices for sustainable crop production in the South. Cotton is rotated with corn, small grains, winter legumes, and soybeans. Treatments with no rotation and no winter legumes produce about the same cotton yield as they did 110 years ago. Treatments using only winter legume N (e.g. crimson clover) produce almost as much as those receiving high N fertilization. Since 1997, the experiment has been managed using high residue and conservation tillage practices. In 2003, irrigation was installed on half of each plot. Impressive crop yields and soil property changes over the last 10 years will be presented. This experiment is on the National Register of Historical Places.