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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-6—SOIL & WATER MANAGEMENT & CONSERVATION

Conservation Tillage Systems for Cotton in the Tennessee Valley


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 66 No. 2, p. 569-577
    Received: June 21, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): wreeves@acesag.auburn.edu
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  1. E. B. Schwaba,
  2. D. W. Reeves *a,
  3. C. H. Burmesterb and
  4. R. L. Rapera
  1. a USDA-ARS Soil Dynamics Research Unit, 411 S. Donahue Dr., Auburn, AL 36832
    b Dep. of Agronomy and Soils, 202 Funchess Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849


Yield reductions from no-tillage cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) jeopardized adoption of conservation systems in the Tennessee Valley region of north Alabama in the early 1990s. We conducted a study from 1995 to 1999 on a Decatur silt loam (fine, kaolinitic, thermic Rhodic Paleudults) to develop a practical conservation tillage system with competitive yields for the region. Treatments included a factorial combination of fall ridging (ridged and nonridged) and fall non-inversion deep tillage (none, in-row subsoiling, paratilling), along with spring strip tillage and conventional tillage (fall chisel-spring disk). All treatments, except conventional tillage, were established with a rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop. Tillage systems were evaluated for soil temperature, penetration resistance, a soil compaction index, soil water, plant population, and seed cotton yield. Paratilling reduced soil compaction index 29 and 31% compared with conventional tillage and no-tillage, respectively. Subsoiling reduced the compaction index 12 and 15% compared with conventional tillage and no-tillage, respectively. Soil water content was decreased with the fall paratilled and subsoiled conservation tillage systems, compared with conventional tillage and no-tillage, suggesting increased rooting. Fall non-inversion deep tillage, either paratilling or in-row subsoiling with a narrow-shanked subsoiler, resulted in the highest seed cotton yields; 16% greater than conventional tillage (2660 kg ha−1), and 10% greater than strict no-tillage (2810 kg ha−1) across a 4-yr duration. In this region, non-inversion deep tillage under the row in fall, coupled with a rye cover crop to produce adequate residue for moisture conservation and erosion control, is a highly competitive and practical conservation tillage system.

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Copyright © 2002. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.66:569–577.