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Title: Total carbon, bulk density, and soil strength affected by conservation systems

item Raper, Randy
item Arriaga, Francisco
item Balkcom, Kipling
item SHAW, J
item Schwab, Eric

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2008
Publication Date: 5/27/2008
Citation: Simoes, P.P., Raper, R.L., Arriaga, F.J., Balkcom, K.S., Shaw, J.N., Schwab, E.B. 2008. Total carbon, bulk density, and soil strength affected by conservation systems. In: Boyd, S., et al, editors. Proceedings of the National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference, January 8-11, 2008, Nashville, Tennessee. p. 1673-1677.

Interpretive Summary: Soil compaction affects a great part of cultivated soils by diminishing crop yields and by causing environmental and economic losses. Our study investigated methods of treating soil compaction by comparing different tillage strategies. We conclude that in-row subsoiling combined with cover crops efficiently alleviate compaction and are necessary to maintain cost-effective levels of productivity in the Coastal Plain region.

Technical Abstract: The adoption of non-inversion deep tillage has been recommended to disrupt compacted soil layers and create an adequate medium for crop development. In spite of its efficacy, increased fuel prices have many producers questioning in-row subsoiling and cover crops as too expensive. Soil physical and chemical properties along with crop yields are indicators of soil quality and can be used to assess efficiency of the cropping system. This study evaluated soil strength, bulk density and soil organic carbon among other variables with the objective of determining the conservation tillage system that optimizes cotton and peanut production for the Wiregrass region including benefits of cover crops and different subsoilers. On compacted Dothan loamy sand in the Southern Coastal plain, a cotton-peanut rotation was established with four different deep tillage treatments with and without a cover crop. Results showed that any of the in-row subsoiling treatments had reduced bulk density and soil strength, and increased infiltration, cover, and cash crop yields. Our results also proved that a cover crop increased soil carbon, soil moisture, and cash crop yields. We conclude that the optimum production system for this region consists of a conservation system that includes in-row subsoiling and cover crops.