Central Alabama Soil Quality Improvement for Cotton Growers

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2002: $2,116.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Leonard Kuykendall
AL Coooperative Extension System/Autauga County

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: cotton, rye, wheat


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis


    Deep in-row subsoiling with the paraplow did provide a significant cotton yield increase in a totally different year in 2003 with a cool wet spring and high rainfall summer, which is just opposite of 2002. The 2003 subsoiled plots did provide a slight visual height advantage when compared to the replicated paraplowed plots subsoiled prior to 2003.

    The late(headed) wheat small grain cover crop termination(burndown) did provide a slight yield increase over the early(tillering) kill in both cover crop tests. The stand counts and organic matter content was almost the same for the early verses the late killed cover crop. The adequate rainfall received throughout the growing season did not provide the "normal" conditions necessary for the late maturitity cover crop to show a significant annual yield advantage due to short term droughts.


    An area comprehensive cotton survey with 68 fields in 2001 provided information revealing that 68% of the fields exhibited hard(traffic)pans and that the organic matter in the top 2 inches of the soil profile averaged less than .6%. The wholesale adoption of conservation tillage has magnified the need for education with practices favorable to growing cotton with regard to tillage and organic matter content. When small grain cover crops are utilized, they are typically terminated at the tillering stage which greatly eliminates the cover crop value in increasing organic matter and the mulch benefit.

    Project objectives:

    The goal of the project is to successfully show with on farm commercial operations that proper tillage and utilization of small grain cover crops can provide a profitable long term sustainable cropping system . The success was measured objectively by stand counts(plants/row foot,skip index), organic matter content and most of all cotton yield with the improved tillage and covercrop management practices with conservation tillage.

    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.