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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Benefits of Site-Specific Subsoiling for Cotton Production in Coastal Plain Soils

Authors
item Donoghue, Ann
item Reeves, Donald
item Shaw, Joey - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Van Santen, Edzar - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Mask, Paul - AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Soil and Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 21, 2007
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
Citation: Raper, R.L., Reeves, D.W., Shaw, J.N., Van Santen, E., Mask, P.L. 2007. Benefits of site-specific subsoiling for cotton production in coastal plain soils. International Journal of Soil and Tillage Research. 96:174-181.

Interpretive Summary: Soil compaction restricts plant growth and varies widely within Southern fields. Soil compaction can also be costly to treat, as subsoiling requires large amounts of horsepower and fuel. A study was conducted in conjunction with Deere and Co. under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to evaluate the concept of site-specific subsoiling as a cost-effective method of optimizing cotton yields while conserving energy. The results of the experiment found that cotton yields were not decreased by site-specific subsoiling and (depending upon the amount of variation present within the field) fuel savings could be as much as 59%. Further development of this technology, along with technologies that would enable quick measures of soil compaction, could enable producers to till their soils only where soil compaction was problematic rather than across the entire field.

Technical Abstract: The negative impacts of soil compaction on crop yields can often be alleviated by subsoiling. However, this subsoiling operation is often conducted at unnecessarily deep depths where it wastes energy and disturbs surface residue necessary for erosion control and improved soil quality. A corn (Zea mays L.)-cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) rotation experiment was conducted over four years on a Coastal Plain soil with a hardpan in east-central Alabama to evaluate the potential for site-specific subsoiling (tilling just deep enough to eliminate the hardpan layer) to improve crop yields while conserving energy. Seed cotton yield showed benefits of subsoiling compared to the no-subsoiling treatment. Site-specific subsoiling produced yields equivalent to deep subsoiling while not excessively disturbing surface soil and residues. Significant reductions in draft force and drawbar power were found for site-specific subsoiling as compared to uniform deep subsoiling. Producers in the Coastal Plains who can determine the depth of their root-impeding layer and can provide site-specific subsoiling to loosen compacted soil profiles should have comparable yields and reduced energy requirements as those producers implementing uniform deep subsoiling.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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