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Title: On farm conservation tillage vegetable system utilizing high-residue cover crops in Alabama

item Kornecki, Ted
item Price, Andrew

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2011
Publication Date: 1/20/2011
Citation: Kornecki, T.S., Price, A.J. 2011. On farm conservation tillage vegetable system utilizing high-residue cover crops in Alabama. Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: An on-farm no-till experiment was initiated in 2008 at Randle Farm, Auburn, AL. The objective was to demonstrate tenable on-farm conservation vegetable production systems using high amounts of cover crop residues to reduce soil erosion, improve soil productivity and quality, reduce energy costs and promote farm profitability. The project was funded by USDA-NRCS as a CGA grant with cooperation of researchers from the USDA-ARS, National Soil Dynamics Laboratory (NSDL) and Auburn University. A sandy soil area (1.0 acre) which had not been under production for decades was selected by the producer to conduct a replicated experiment. The experimental layout and required equipment were designed by NSDL scientists. Rye, crimson clover, and a mixture (rye and crimson clover) were selected as cover crops; these were managed using a two-stage roller/crimper prototype. Three different cash crops (watermelons, cantaloupes, and okra) were transplanted in mid-May utilizing a modified RJ transplanter equipped with a subsoiling shank to alleviate soil compaction; equipment modifications were made at NSDL. In 2009, researchers realized several problems associated with no-till systems when use of commercial herbicides and pesticides are discouraged. Large insect populations (grasshoppers and squash bugs) severely hindered tomato and okra establishment and high weed pressure reduced yields. The 2009 growing season served as a learning process to resolve pest problems by using organic compounds and mechanical methods. In 2010, yields of watermelon, okra and cantaloupe were obtained. This work presents findings for a vegetable no-till system using cover crops under weather and soil conditions of Alabama and provides guidance for adoption of similar conservation systems in the Southeast.