Project Summaries

08-469  Project Manager: P. F. O'Leary

INTEGRATING SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION AND PEST MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE COTTON PRODUCTION

Tina Gray Teague, Steven Green, Jennifer Bouldin, and Calvin Shumway, Arkansas State University

The 2012 crop year was the 5th season for this Tillage / Cover crop experiment which features three tillage treatments: conventional, no-till and terminated wheat cover crop/conservation tillage. We repeated the subplot treatments used in the 2011 trial with three different N fertilizer application timings, and  two different fertilizer types, standard urea and urea amended with Agrotain, a urease inhibitor recommended for use by the UA CES and accepted as a nutrient management practice by Arkansas USDA-NRCS. Improved N fertilizer efficiencies are touted for this product, and greatest benefit in row crops has been seen midwest environments in reduced tillage systems. We saw no benefit from Agotain in either year. There also was no benefit for split applications of fertilizer in either year. We had considered promoting Agrotain to our farmer cooperators in the conservation innovation farms but likely will not do so now because of these results and the high cost of the material. The 2011 work was published in the Arkansas Cotton Research Series 602.

Additonal studies associated with the tillage trial include evaluations by UA plant pathologist, Craig Rothrock on seedling "vigor". He found no differences among treatments in 2011; his evaluations have not yet been completed for the 2012 study. One other project associated with the tillage work involves a PhD student in the Department of Biology at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Using pit fall traps, she surveyed arthropods through two seasons. Her work was presented at the SE ESA branch meeting last spring. Her results showed increased numbers of predaceous arthropods, including spiders and ants, associated with reduced tillage systems and cover crop compared to conventional practices.

COTMAN & Site Specific Crop Monitoring - Rainfed and Irrigagted Management Zones: When placed within a sustainability framework, a zone managment strategy for cotton production has both economic and environmentally beneficial implications with the overall goal being to improve production efficiences. Our work in 2012 included evaluation of zone management approach in use by several large producers in NE Arkansas using irrigation zones in center pivot fields. A presentation on this study was presented at the 2013 Beltwide, and the proceedings paper is included in this report. As an entomologist, I was very pleased to see large scale implementation of site specific insect management using management zones among big growers in NE Arkansas in 2012. Our producers terminated late season insect control for plant bugs in rainfed corners of fields two weeks earlier than for their irrigated centers. Small step…but I was happy to get the opportunity to install an on-farm study to provide validation of the approach.

Georeferenced Crop Monitoring: The 2010 version of COTMAN allows users to georeference sample sites, enableing scouts to navigate back to those sites through the season (we still need a simplified interface to help our crop advisors use this capability to expand their use of precision IPM). In this project during our on-farm work, my crew has field tested releases of COTMAN and provided feedback to Phillip Allen at Ag Renaissance to try to support his development of a new release.

Weather Stations: Cambell weather stations purchased through this project are operational at Judd Hill and Wildy Farms. We have real time data displayed on the web currently at http://weather.astate.edu/Perry/Main.asp. There are links with the Cotton Incorporated, Judd Hill, UA and Wildy Farms web sites.

Conservation Innovation - Cotton Sustainability: The majority of time and effort for the CI Sustainability project this year has been allocated to the field work associated with the USDA NRCS conservation innovation project. The CI sustainability Core grant is part of the 1:1 match that is required for the NRCS funding. My goal in the project is to take results from past (and on-going) small plot research and integrate those practices in commercial fields using extensive crop, insect, soil and water monitoring activities to document our "progress". If our growers adopt the NRCS approved conservation practices, do they make money and can we document "envionmental improvements". The first report in the attached packet summarizes the progress in the 2012 crop season (the first year of the two year project). The project consists of paired commercial fields (35 to 60 acres), with and without conservation practices, on three farms, the Gordon Miller Farm (near Monette), David Wildy Farm (near Leachville) and Danny Finch Farm (near Caraway). We are very fortunate to have the cooperation of these outstanding NE Arkansas cotton producers in the project. Conservation practices installed on the "conservation" treatment fields include fall planted wheat cover crop and an USDA-NRCS furrow irrigation design plan generated using Pipe-Planner. A report for this project is included in the attachment. Edge of field water monitoring continues this winter in that project; our growers have cover crops established for the 2013 season. We hope to move toward more zone management practices in the conservation fields in 2013. CORE equipment funds were used for replacement of an ISCO water sampler for automated edge of field water samling in support of this work.  

Teague, T.G., L. Espinoza, C.S. Rothrock, A. Flanders, and L.A. Fowler. 2012. Nitrogen fertilizer timing and tillage - focusing management to build sustainable cotton systems. pp.100-111. in: Derrick M. Oosterhuis (ed), Summaries of Arkansas Cotton Research 2011, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Series 602.

Kathiar, S. Janet Lanza, T.G. Teague and K.D. Neeley. 2012.The effect of tillage systems on abundance of arthropods in cotton fields - pitfall trap studies in NE Arkansas. 2012 Southeastern/Southwestern Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. 4-7 March 2012. Little Rock, AR

 

Project Year: 2012
 

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