Conservation tillage production systems compared in San Joaquin Valley cotton
Tillage operations, including preplant soil preparation, in-season weed control and postharvest stalk management, can account for 25% or more of overall cotton production costs. These operations reduce soil organic matter and contribute to air pollution. Conservation tillage practices similar to those used successfully elsewhere in the Cotton Belt may be a viable means for increasing profitability and improving soil in San Joaquin Valley cotton fields. In a comparison of reduced-tillage production methods, conservation tillage planting and stalk-management systems had yields comparable to those of standard tillage practices in two back-to-back cotton crops in Riverdale, Calif. These reduced-till systems decreased the number of tractor operations by 41% to 53%, fuel use by 48% to 62%, and overall production costs by 14% to 18%.