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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #299200

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Effects of Arkansas cotton production systems on soil strength

Author
item Pote, Daniel
item RAPER, RANDY - Oklahoma State University
item SNIDER, JOHN - University Of Georgia
item Reba, Michele
item TEAGUE, TINA - Arkansas State University

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/13/2015
Publication Date: 6/7/2016
Citation: Pote, D.H., Raper, R.L., Snider, J.L., Reba, M.L., Teague, T.G. 2016. Effects of Arkansas cotton production systems on soil strength. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 32(3):365-369.

Interpretive Summary: For Arkansas cotton producers, there is considerable interest in adopting conservation tillage practices to help improve the soil, prevent erosion, and cut costs; but no-till and reduced tillage systems do not allow the frequent tillage that has historically been used to help alleviate soil compaction problems in this region. To address these concerns, researchers conducted a three-year study to compare the effects of three tillage systems (conventional tillage, no-till, and reduced tillage with a cover crop) on soil compaction. Although conventional tillage initially had the least soil compaction, the no-till system was the most effective over the three-year period for gradually decreasing compaction in the soil profile at 20-cm (8-inch) depths and below. This study is of interest to agricultural producers, extension personnel, and scientists because it shows that no-till provides an effective management option that can help improve soil quality while decreasing production costs and soil erosion.

Technical Abstract: In recent years, many Arkansas cotton producers are adopting conservation tillage, often including winter cover crops, to help improve the soil and prevent erosion. However, no-till and reduced tillage systems do not allow the frequent tillage that has historically been used to help alleviate soil compaction problems in this region. To help address these concerns, a three-year experiment was conducted in eastern Arkansas to compare effects of the following three tillage systems on soil compaction: conventional tillage, no-till, and reduced tillage with a cover crop. A soil probe was used annually after cotton harvest to obtain a full set of cone index (CI) and electrical conductivity (EC) data at five locations across the row, with six replications of each plot x row position combination. Soil moisture for each treatment was determined from soil cores collected at two depths. First-year CI values indicated root-limiting conditions below the 30-cm depth in all treatments, but were greater in no-till and cover crop treatments than in conventional-tillage plots. However, tillage treatment showed very little effect on CI in the second year, and no-till treatments had the lowest overall CI values in the third year, regardless of row position, indicating the no-till system gradually decreased compaction in the soil profile at 20-cm depths and below. Although root-limiting conditions still existed near the surface in all treatments, these were shallow enough in the no-till system that in-row subsoiling should be a viable option to decrease CI and possibly eliminate any compaction effects on the crop.