Soil properties change in no-till tomato production
Enrique V. Herrero, Department of Vegetable Crops, UC Davis and UC Cooperative Extension, Sutter-Yuba Counties
Jeffrey P. Mitchell, Department of Vegetable Crops and Weed Science, UC Davis
W. Thomas Lanini, Department of Vegetable Crops and Weed Science, UC Davis
Steven R. Temple, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, UC Davis
Eugene M. Miyao, Yolo and Solano Counties
Ronald D. Morse, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia
Enio Campiglia, Department of Crop Production, University of Tuscia. Viterbo, Italy
California Agriculture 55(1):30-34. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v055n01p30.
High production costs and perceived declines in soil quality due to agricultural intensification have led to recent interest in conservation tillage production practices. We conducted field experiments in Five Points in 1997 and 1998 to evaluate the effectiveness of maintaining a cover crop mulch on the soil surface in a no-till system compared to a standard tillage system for conserving soil moisture and improving water infiltration and other soil physical properties in a furrow-irrigated tomato field. Soil water content did not differ among treatments in 1997, but was higher under no-till cover crop mulches than conventionally tilled plots during the 1998 growing season. Soil carbon was increased more than 8% and more earthworms were found under no-till mulches relative to the conventionally tilled plots in the second year of the study. Soil compaction was lower in no-till treatments, especially at the 1-to-2-foot depth. In this study, furrows were swept clean and therefore furrow irrigation did not constitute a limitation to this no-till system.
Funding for this project was provided by the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. the California Tomato Research Institute and the California Tomato Commission.