Conservation tillage systems for cotton advance in the San Joaquin Valley
Jeffrey P. Mitchell, UC Davis
Lyle Carter, Shafter Cotton Research Station
Daniel S. Munk, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County
Karen M. Klonsky, UC Davis
Robert B. Hutmacher, UC West Side Research and Extension Center, Five Points
Anil Shrestha, California State University, Fresno
Richard DeMoura, UC Davis
Jonathan F. Wroble, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County
California Agriculture 66(3):108-115. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v066n03p108.
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.
J.P. Mitchell is Cropping Systems Specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis; L. Carter is Retired Engineer, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Shafter Cotton Research Station; D. Munk is UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Fresno County; K. Klonsky is Agricultural Economics Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; R. Hutmacher is Cotton Specialist and Director, UC West Side Research and Extension Center, Five Points; A. Shrestha is Associate Professor of Weed Science, California State University, Fresno; R. DeMoura is Production Cost Analyst, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; J. Wroble is Field Technician, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County.
We thank Monte Bottens of California Ag Solutions, Madera, for help and guidance with cotton planting equipment, and the California Tomato Research Institute for their support of the tomato portions of this rotation work.