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No-Tillage Cotton Yields and Economics for South Texas

J.R. Smart and J.M. Bradford


Cotton production without tillage leaves crop residue on the soil surface to mulch the soil. This crop residue can help to increase water infiltration rates into the soil profile, reduce surface runoff, soil surface evaporation, wind and water erosion and decrease soil temperatures near the surface. Cotton growth and lint yield were measured over a two year period for no-tillage (NT), ridge-tillage (RT) and conventional moldboard tillage (CT). Input costs for crop production and passes over the field were included in an economic analysis of irrigated cotton production for the three tillage systems. In 1996, NT cotton lint yields were 13% less than CT and RT lint yields were almost 20% less than CT. In 1997 the yields were not different for the tillage treatments. An economic analysis was conducted for each crop year and cropping sequence. The CT spring cotton followed by fall corn each year crop sequence had average net returns of $17 ha-1 more than the no-tillage treatment. The CT average net return for the crop sequence where cotton and corn was rotated on an annual basis was $33 ha-1 less than the no-tillage treatment. Results of this two year study indicate that no-tillage cotton production can have crop yields equivalent to conventional tillage and net returns as good or better than conventional tillage. If yields and economic returns can be maintained while reducing labor and trips over the field, and reducing wind and water erosion then no-tillage production of cotton should be an acceptable alternative production practice for cotton producers in south Texas.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1998 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 624 - 626
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998