Introducing Alternative Crops Into Traditional Cotton-Grain Farming to Aid Transition To "Freedom to Farm" Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $114,279.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $114,279.00
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Roland E. Roberts
Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: cotton, peanuts, rye, sorghum (milo), sunflower, wheat
  • Vegetables: beans, peppers


  • Crop Production: intercropping, strip tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, agricultural finance, risk management
  • Pest Management: economic threshold, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures


    A 4-year cotton-pepper-grain sorghum-vegetable legume rotation allows farmers to meet the objectives of the Freedom-to-Farm farm program while maintaining profitability and improving soil health. Cultural practices including windbreaks, tensiometer-based irrigation scheduling, and row-cover transplant production maintained or increased enterprise profitability compared to traditional cotton monoculture. Local marketing of roasted chile peppers provided a value-added opportunity for a high-value crop. Crop diversity also enhanced the impact of integrated pest management strategies.

    Project objectives:

    1) Design and evaluate crop rotations including cotton, southernpea, chile pepper and grain sorghum to maximize producer sustainability while reducing buildup of soil diseases, improving soil conservation and management, and enhancing growth of rotational crops.

    2) Identify and quantify cultural practices (irrigation, fertilization, wind protection) that optimize optimize pepper stand establishment, growth, yield, and quality.

    3) Integrate adaptive research results into chile pepper production system demonstrations and disseminate the results to current and potential growers through their participation in adaptive research, on-farm demonstrations, field days and innovative educational programs.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.