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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science


Cotton Yield Response and Economic Implications to In-Row Subsoil Tillage and Sprinkler Irrigation

Authors: H. C. Pringle, III and S. W. Martin
Pages: 185-193
Economics and Marketing

Deep tillage at a 45° angle has been a recommended practice since the mid-1970s on most Mississippi Delta cotton soils. This practice disrupts hard pans and allows deeper wetting of the soil profile with winter rainfall. The newest deep tillage “subsoiler” designs (Paratill, low-till parabolic) have the shank extending through the soil at an angle, thereby reducing soil surface disturbance and allowing the subsoiler to run under the row in the direction of the row, without the shank passing directly through the drill. Both center pivot and furrow irrigation of cotton has expanded since the early 1980s. With intermittent rainfall, irrigation is supplemental and represents a type of insurance against yield uncertainty during extended periods of water deficit. The objective of this study was to determine the longterm effects of sprinkler irrigation and in-row subsoil tillage on cotton yield and economic return. Field experiments were conducted at Stoneville, MS on a silt loam soil from 1994 through 2001. In-row subsoil tillage was performed with a low-till parabolic subsoiler and irrigation was applied with an overhead lateral-move sprinkler irrigation system. Production costs were calculated for direct costs and total specified costs excluding land rent, general farm overhead and returns to management. Average net returns were calculated as the difference between income at the cotton loan rate of $1.15 per kg of lint and total specified costs. Returns were maximized with either the irrigated, non-subsoiled or the non-irrigated, subsoiled environments. Lower returns occurred in the irrigated, subsoiled environment due to the higher costs and lack of yield increase.