Submitted to: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Special Reports
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: An increasing number of cotton farmers are using conservation tillage instead of conventional tillage to produce their crop. Changing tillage systems can affect the way the plants develop and may impact the physical properties of the harvested cotton fiber. We conducted this research to determine the effect of tillage on fiber properties. We found that the length of the fibers, the ability of the fibers to resist breaking, and the amount they would stretch before breaking were not substantially influenced by tillage systems. Micronaire (a measure of fiber fineness) was lower for cotton grown with conservation tillage only in treatments that had a relatively thick surface mulch, and then only when the plants experienced water deficit stress while the cotton bolls were developing. Our results indicate that the quality of the cotton purchased by the cotton processing industry will not be significantly altered with the producers changing to conservation tillage systems.
Technical Abstract: Relatively little information is available on how conservation tillage impacts cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fiber properties. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of conservation tillage and surface residues on cotton fiber properties. Fiber properties were determined on cotton grown with conservation and conventional tillage techniques following different winter cover crops in 1991, 1992, and 1994. Cover crops were rye (Cereale secale L.) and fallow in 1991 and 1992, and rye, fallow, and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) in 1994. In a separate experiment in 1993, fiber properties of conservation tillage cotton grown following wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), flax (Linum usitatissum), and fallow were determined under irrigated and rainfed conditions. Tillage systems and surface residue cover did not affect fiber length or elongation. Cotton grown with conservation tillage had slightly higher strength than cotton grown with conventional tillage only in 1994. When water deficit stress occurred in these studies, conservation tillage systems that had ample surface residues had lower micronaire. These results indicate that tillage systems do not have a large effect on cotton fiber properties.