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Conservation tillage systems for cotton advance in the San Joaquin Valley

  • Author(s): Mitchell, Jeffrey P
  • Carter, Lyle
  • Munk, Daniel S
  • Klonsky, Karen M
  • Hutmacher, Robert B
  • Shrestha, Anil
  • DeMoura, Richard
  • Wroble, Jonathan F
  • et al.
Abstract

Cotton production in the San Joaquin Valley has traditionally relied heavily on tillage for its presumed benefits to plant establishment, yields and insect management. Research in the 1960s and 1970s demonstrated the potential of precision or zone tillage, which foreshadowed the introduction of a variety of minimum tillage implements in the early 1990s. During a 3-year comparison study from 2001 to 2003, cotton yields in strip tillage plots matched or exceeded yields of standard tillage plots in all 3 years. In a 12-year study from 1999 to 2011, tillage costs were lowered an average of $70 per acre in 2011 dollars using no-tillage compared to standard tillage while achieving statistically comparable yields, provided that adequate crop stands were achieved. If bottom-line profitability can be maintained, conservation tillage may become increasingly attractive to cotton producers in the San Joaquin Valley.

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