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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #306879

Title: Conservation cropping systems: Increasing water use efficiency and lowering production costs

item Duzy, Leah
item TAYLOR, C - Auburn University
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/23/2014
Publication Date: 6/23/2014
Citation: Duzy, L.M., Taylor, C.R., Balkcom, K.S. 2014. Conservation cropping systems: Increasing water use efficiency and lowering production costs. Universities Council on Water Resources Annual Conference. Available at

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: As of the 2007 Census of Agriculture, irrigated acres were only found on 4.4% of agricultural operations in Alabama. To increase irrigated acres, the Alabama Legislature passed the Irrigation Incentives Bill in 2012 to provide a state income tax credit of 20 percent of the costs of the purchase and installation of irrigation systems, as well as development of irrigation reservoirs and water wells. Two goals of the legislation were to increase farms profits and lower the state’s reliance on imported grain by increasing the production of corn and soybeans. While there are obvious benefits to irrigation, such as increased yields, there are costs associated with adopting irrigation, such as purchase and installation of the equipment, increased management time, and potential for increased soil erosion. The use of a conservation production system, including a cover crop, in place of or in conjunction with irrigation has numerous benefits related to water use: decreased rainfall impact, cooler soil temperatures, lower evaporative losses, increased soil water infiltration, and increased plant available water. Due to the increased plant available water, a conservation system increases the efficiency of a rain or irrigation event, allows for potentially lower water requirements, and allows for preserving water resources and lower production costs. The objective of this research is to demonstrate why agricultural producers should consider adopting a conservation system in place of or in conjunction with irrigation due to the agronomic and economic benefits from the use of a conservation cropping system.