Project Summaries

07-991OK  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes

APPLICATION OF SENSORS IN COTTON MANAGEMENT

Randal K. Taylor, Oklahoma State University

A zone management plan can allow producers with significant in-field yield variability to optimize inputs for a field - in most cases increasing profitability by reducing inputs, increasing yields, or both. However, the tools to execute this management are not always easy to use and management decisions not straight forward. Therefore, work is needed to find easier ways to turn spatial data into variable rate management plans. The objective of this project was to determine the costs and benefits of site-specific management systems from on-farm evaluations.

A production cotton field with known spatial yield variability was selected for evaluation (other sites were planned, but drought conditions in 2011 and 2012 lead to crop failures). Soil electrical conductivity (EC), soil properties, and yield from previous years' data collection were used to develop management zones. Soil EC was measured with a Veris 3100. Variable rate management plans for inputs such as seeding and fertilizer rates were developed through interactive discussions with the producer. Yields were collected using a commercial yield monitor and full strip yields will be evaluated using a research weigh wagon.

Substantial variability was evident in the field. On July 20, 2012 we used a GreenSeeker system to map NDVI of the growing crop and correlated that data with previously defined yield zones. Since NDVI at early to mid-growth stages is highly correlated with biomass, this indicates that zones where higher yield would be expected actually have larger plants. This was also visually verified in the field. The dry conditions have prevented some of the gypsum applied at different rates to different management zones from dissolving and penetrating the soil as there are places where you can still see it on the surface. While there are certainly no treatment differences at this stage, the trends in the data favor the high application rate in the zones where it was prescribed; whether this translates to yield remains to be seen. The crop was not harvested due to drought in 2012. However, this is a long term treatment and can be examined in futuVariety selection is the most important decision made during the year. Unlike herbicide or insecticide decisions that can be changed during the season to address specific conditions and pests, variety selection is made only once, and variety selection dictates the management of a field for the entire season. Variety decisions should be based on genetics first and transgenic technology second. Attention should be focused on agronomic characteristics such as yield, maturity, and fiber quality when selecting varieties.

Texas producers planted 6.6 million acres of cotton in 2012 which was about 0.5 million less than 2011. Transgenic varieties accounted for 99% of the state acreage in 2012 which is up from 86% in 2011. To assist Texas cotton producers in remaining competitive in the Rolling Plains of Texas the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Agronomy program has been conducting, large plot, on-farm, replicated variety trials. This approach provides a good foundation of information that can be utilized to assist the variety selection process. We have also been evaluating the use of TopGuard for Cotton Root Rot Control for the past two years to help farmers control cotton root rot. Seven Replicated Agronomic Cotton Evaluation (RACE) Trials were planted in 2012 and one strip trial.

Only four out of the eight trials where harvested due to the drought. Two cotton root rot trials were initiated to determine the efficacy and phytoxicity of TopGuard® for managing Cotton Root Rot in the Rolling Plains of Texas. We only harvested one due to no disease pressure at the other location.

The complete results of the variety trial is too extensive to be reported in this summary; however, a document titled "RACE Trials for Rolling Plains – 2012" was distributed at multiple county educational meetings, and was distributed to all the county extension agents in the Rolling Plains and to all the major cotton seed companies with varieties grown in the Rolling Plains.

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Project Year: 2012
 

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