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Developing Conservation Tillage Systems for the Tennessee Valley Region in Alabama

D.W. Reeves, C.H. Burmester, R.L. Raper, E.C. Burt


Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) has been grown continuously on many of the silt-loam and silty-clay loam soils of Alabama's Tennessee River Valley for over a hundred years. For many of the farms in the region, conservation tillage is the only practical option available to meet soil conservation compliance guidelines, however, yields with no-tillage have not been competitive to conventional tillage on these soils. In 1995 we began a study to develop a conservation tillage system for these soils that would improve soil quality while maintaining yield levels. The study is located at the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station's Tennessee Valley substation, Belle Mina, AL on a Decatur silt loam. The experimental design is a randomized complete block of four replications. Treatments are: 1) fall ridging with subsoiling, 2) fall ridging without deep tillage, 3) flat planting with subsoiling, 4) flat planting without deep tillage, 5) fall ridging with paratilling, 6) flat planting with paratilling, 7) spring strip tillage, and 8) conventional tillage. A rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop was used on all plots except the conventional tillage treatment. Fall ridging resulted in greater yields than flat no-tillage (1579 lb/A vs. 1404 lb/A seed cotton) and comparable yields to conventional tillage (1508 lb/A). Although paratilling with ridging reduced soil strengths and increased plant growth and soil water use, it did not result in a yield increase in this drought year. The study will continue in order to test the systems over a wide range of environmental conditions.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1996 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 1401 - 1403
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998