|02-195LA Project Manager: R. L. Nichols|
IMPROVING FARM EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY THROUGH MULTICROPPING
Donald J. Boquet, K. W. Paxton, B. R. Leonard, and G. B. Padgett, Louisiana State University
Boll weevil eradication, the advent of insect-resistant cotton cultivars, the wide adoption of conservation tillage, and development of early maturing cotton and wheat cultivars has opened the possibility of growing two crops in one year or three crops in two years in Louisiana. Sustainable, Best Management Practices (BMPs) may include year-round cropping systems that utilize conservation tillage, multi-cropping, rotation, and the use of cover crops that reduce runoff and protect water quality. Such BMPs may also positively impact soil productivity and farm income. Experiments were done from 2000 through 2005 near Winnsboro on a Gigger silt loam. The objectives were to compare the yields and returns of no-till systems of mono-crop cotton, corn, soybean and grain sorghum to multi-crop systems of summer crops following wheat as a green manure, or wheat for grain, and three year sequences that include cotton, doublecrop wheat and soybean, corn or grain sorghum. Data were collected on crop yields, cultural practices and needed inputs.
Yields of cotton, corn, soybean, and sorghum in the double crop systems were similar to yields in continuous mono-cropping. Annual net returns for mono-crop cotton averaged $112 per acre. Net returns for double crop cotton/wheat averaged $164, because double crop cotton produced near equivalent yields to mono-cropping, and double cropping had added returns from the winter wheat grain crop. Rotational double crop systems of wheat/cotton followed by corn, soybean, or grain sorghum produced annual net returns that ranged from $68 to $101 per acre, and thus were not as profitable as continuous mono-crop cotton or doublecrop wheat/cotton. With the exception of double crop cotton/wheat, all of the BMP multi-crop systems and mono-crop grain systems produced lower net returns than continuous mono-crop cotton. Cropping systems with cotton, corn, soybean, grain sorghum, and wheat in 1- to 3-year sequences can be designed as BMPs to protect surface water quality. However, not all systems will be economically competitive with a system of winter fallow with continuous cotton. Economics will be a major consideration for cotton producers who implement BMPs and cost sharing programs may be needed to encourage voluntary BMPs that limit profitability.
|Project Year: 2005|
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