97-1 Cropping Systems to Enhance Water and Soil Conservation in Semi-Arid Regions of Texas.
Monday, October 23, 2017: 1:35 PM
Marriott Tampa Waterside, Florida Salon IV
As stewards of the land, farmers in semi-arid agriculture production regions are challenged to maintain farm profitability while conserving soil and water resources. When optimized for regional semi-arid conditions, conservation tillage systems incorporating crop rotation and cover crop practices may have the potential to conserve water and soil resources through increased water holding capacity and soil organic matter content. As water is often the most limiting factor in crop production within semi-arid environments, practices that are perceived to reduce stored soil water will hinder adoption. Water use by cover crops may reduce stored soil moisture and yields of subsequent crops. Research in the Southern High Plains of Texas has demonstrated increased returns with winter wheat/summer fallow-cotton rotations compared to continuous cotton planted in terminated rye cover. Implementation of greater biomass producing crops such as wheat in rotation with cotton should provide similar soil quality benefits as cover crops, but unlike rye-cover, a wheat-cotton rotation has been demonstrated to reduce root-knot nematode density. The objective of this research was to evaluate and quantify the impact of crop rotation, rye-cover, and reduced tillage coupled with deficit-irrigation management strategies on soil quality, root-knot nematode populations and the subsequent effect on cotton yield. Discussion of results will include soil physical and chemical properties, nematode populations, cotton lint yield and economic returns.
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