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Research Project: Sustainable Production, Profit, and Environmental Stewardship through Conservation Systems

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Impact of conservation systems on net returns to cotton production in Alabama

Author
item Duzy, Leah
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2015
Publication Date: 3/16/2015
Citation: Duzy, L.M., Balkcom, K.S. 2015. Impact of conservation systems on net returns to cotton production in Alabama. In: Boyd, S., Huffman, M., editors. Proceedings of the National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference, January 5-7, 2015, San Antonio, Texas. p. 445-451.

Interpretive Summary: With lower commodity prices and higher expenses, cotton farmers are concerned with increasing yields, while lowering expenses. The adoption of a conservation system, including a winter cover crop, may be a good option for cotton farmers in Alabama. The objective of this research is to determine the economic impact of different tillage systems and cover crops on cotton production in Alabama. The data are from an experiment conducted from 2004 to 2009 in Prattville, Alabama. The experiment included four tillage systems and three cover crops. The tillage systems were: 1) no tillage; 2) spring strip till; 3) spring paratill; and 4) fall paratill. The three cover crop treatments were: 1) cereal rye; 2) winter wheat; and 3) corn residue. In five out of six years the use of cover crops produced yields greater than yields following corn residue. In four out of six years, planting cotton after a cover crop produced profits that were either greater than or not different from profit for cotton following corn residue. In conclusion, the use of conservation tillage and a cover crop provides producers with a production system to help reach conservation goals, as well as maintain or exceed yields and profits from using conservation tillage alone.

Technical Abstract: With lower commodity prices and higher production expenses, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) producers are concerned with maximizing yields, while minimizing production expenses. The adoption of a conservation system, including a winter cover crop, may be a viable option for cotton producers in Alabama. The objective of this research is to evaluate the economic impact of different tillage systems and cover crops on cotton production in Alabama. The data are from an experiment conducted during crop years 2004 - 2009 at the Prattville Agricultural Research Unit in Prattville, Alabama. The experiment included four tillage systems and three cover crops. The tillage systems were: 1) no tillage; 2) spring strip till; 3) spring paratill; and 4) fall paratill. The three cover crop treatments were: 1) cereal rye (Secale cereale L.); 2) winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.); and 3) corn (Zea mays L.) residue. In five out of six years the use of cover crops produced yields statistically greater than yields following corn residue. In four out of six years, planting cotton after a cover crop produced net returns above variable treatment costs (NRAVTC) that were either statistically greater than or not statistically different from NRAVTC for cotton following corn residue. In conclusion, the use of conservation tillage and a cover crop provides producers with a production system to help reach conservation goals, as well as maintain or exceed yields and NRAVTC from using conservation tillage alone.