Submitted to: New Technology in Agriculture International Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 28, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Conservation tillage is possibly the most significant development in dryland farming systems in recent years to improve soil and water conservation, prevent soil degradation, and decrease farm input costs. Widespread acceptance of conservation tillage by farmers occurred first in the Midwest USA where periods of freezing temperatures assisted in controlling weeds and in promoting good soil structure. With the availability of new herbicides and improved planters and application equipment such as hooded sprayers, conservation tillage principles have been extended to the semi-arid, subtropical climate of south Texas and northern Mexico where soils and weeds are often difficult to manage. The primary reason given by farmers for changing to conservation tillage systems is greater economic returns. Farm profitability and efficiency are increased and soil and water resources are conserved and enhanced not only by conservation tillage but also through site-specific crop management systems that use high technology products such as the Global Position System (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), aerial videography, and yield monitors. In this paper, we will discuss economic and environmental benefits of site-specific crop management systems and how these systems can be utilized in conjunction with conservation tillage to best manage soil and water resources at the field scale. Conservation tillage experiments have been conducted at several locations in south Texas and northern Mexico. Grain sorghum, corn, and cotton yields were equal or greater in conservation tillage plots as compared with conventional tillage systems. Moisture content at planting time was greater, and farm profits were about $42/acre per year greater, on the average, under conservation tillage.