Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2004
Publication Date: June 8, 2004
Citation: Endale, D.M., Schomberg, H.H., Cabrera, M.L. Tillage and n-fertilizer source effects on cotton fiber quality. Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture. 2004. p.49-57. CD ROM. Raleigh, NC. Interpretive Summary: The net value of a cotton crop to a grower is determined not only by yield and cotton prices, but by lint quality and quality-based discounts. Nearly 60% of the cotton produced in the South is now grown with conservation tillage. Producers, however, have little information as to how this practice impacts lint quality. Additionally, the 7 million acres of cotton grown in the South could serve as an environmentally friendly means to help dispose of litter produced by poultry enterprises in the region, amounting to over half of the 13 million tons of poultry litter produced in the USA annually. But information on the impact of fertilizing cotton with poultry litter on lint quality is also lacking. In two years of study, scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, GA, and the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, compared lint quality of cotton grown with either no-tillage or conventional tillage, and with either poultry litter or commercial nitrogen (ammonium nitrate) fertilization. No-tillage and poultry litter influenced the proportions of lint falling in different fiber quality classes. For example, no-tillage shifted fabric fineness from fine towards the medium class, and reduced the fineness market value from premium towards the base range. The influence on fiber length was mixed. Some length classes were shifted towards shorter while others were shifted to longer length classes. These shifts might impact price discounts and other economic considerations. Cotton growers, commodity groups, extension agents, and federal agencies would find his information pertinent and useful. Cotton fiber has a 60% share of the total retail market for apparel and home furnishings, excluding carpets, in the U.S.
Technical Abstract: Cotton lint yield along with fiber quality determines the value of the crop to growers since tests of fiber are a key consideration in sales of cotton to processing plants. Most cotton research has focused on impacts of genetic, environmental, and management factors on production and yield. More research is needed to describe the impact of these variables on cotton fiber quality. We analyzed two years of fiber quality data from a cotton-rye cropping system under a factorial set of tillage and fertilizer treatments (conventional till, no-till, conventional fertilizer, and poultry litter). Cotton fiber fineness, strength, length, uniformity index, and the 2.5% and 50% span lengths were measured partially using high volume instrumentation equipment. The data were classified and used in evaluating cotton quality according to industry standards. Categorical analysis showed that the production treatments impacted fiber quality. Fiber quality variation occurred over narrow ranges and differences were generally small. We found from our data that shifts had occurred from one class to another as a result of production treatments. These shifts may impact the economics of cotton production.