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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #273757

Title: Effects of different residue management methods on cotton establishment and yield in a no-till system

item Kornecki, Ted
item Arriaga, Francisco
item Price, Andrew
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/13/2012
Publication Date: 12/21/2012
Citation: Kornecki, T.S., Arriaga, F.J., Price, A.J., Balkcom, K.S. 2012. Effects of different residue management methods on cotton establishment and yield in a no-till system. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(6):787-794.

Interpretive Summary: Cover crops provide multiple benefits in no-till systems, resulting in adaptation or transition to some form of conservation tillage by many cotton producers in the Southeast. Because of the cost associated with purchasing no-till equipment, producers first utilize their conventional tillage, i.e., wide strip subsoilers and conventional planters while they purchase relatively inexpensive add-on attachment tools such as row cleaners, to manage large amounts of cover crop residue. On the other hand, experienced no-till cotton producers utilize rollers to flatten cover crops and no-till planters to manage cover crop residue while planting. Our research showed that in the 2007 growing season, rolled residue helped to achieve higher cotton stands and higher cotton seed yield compared to non-rolled standing rye. Rolled residue also helped keep lower soil compaction up to 15 cm of depth compared to non-rolled residue providing more favorable growing conditions for cotton. Additionally, in all three growing seasons, the width of the tillage strip did not have any significant effect on cotton establishment or cotton seed yield.

Technical Abstract: A field experiment was conducted in 2007, 2008 and 2009 in central Alabama to evaluate the effects of cover crop mechanical termination, strip tillage width, and row cleaners attached either to the tillage implement or planting units, on cotton population and yield. Treatments included roller (present or absent), in-row subsoiler (wide and narrow strips), and row-cleaners attached either to subsoiler, planter or both. Rye was terminated with glyphosate (both rolled and non-rolled rye) in mid-April, and tillage treatments were applied; cotton was planted three weeks after tillage. In 2007, generally higher cotton stands were associated with rolled rye residue (137,134 plants/ha) v/s non-rolled rye (115,641 plants/ha). On average, significantly higher cotton seed yield was found for rolled rye (4,540 kg/ha compared to non-rolled rye (4,332 kg/ha). Examining specific treatments, the highest cotton seed yield (4,933 kg/ha) was associated with rolled rye under narrow strip tillage with row cleaners attached to both subsoiler and planter. The lowest cotton yield (3,913 kg/ha) was associated with non-rolled residue, under narrow strip tillage with row cleaners present on both subsoiler and planter. In 2008, no difference was found in cotton stand for rolled (108,375 plants/ha) and non-rolled rye (107,719 plants/ha). Cotton seed yield was higher in 2008 than in 2007 due to a severe drought in Alabama during 2007. In 2008, slightly higher cotton yield was reported for non-rolled rye (5,658 kg/ha) v/s rolled rye (5,419 kg/ha). The non-rolled rye, narrow strip subsoiling and row cleaners on subsoiler generated the highest cotton yield (5,812 kg/ha) compared with the lowest (5,171 kg/ha) by rolled rye, narrow strip and row cleaners on the planter. In 2009, cotton stand for rolled rye was higher (115,036 plants/ha) compared to non-rolled rye residue (65,894 plants/ha). In 2009, the cotton yield was substantially reduced by flooding of the experimental area. Because of the excess of water, the cotton yield was lower (2,672 kg/ha) compared to 2007 and 2008 growing seasons. Soil strength measurements taken in fall 2009 showed significantly lower cone index values with rolled rye v/s non-rolled from 0 to 15-cm of depth, with trends reversed after 20-cm. In any case, cone index values were below the 2 MPa threshold that indicates restrictive conditions for root growth. In all three growing seasons, the width of the tillage strip and the location of row cleaners (planter/subsoiler) did not affect cotton stand and seed cotton yield.