Adaptable Wide Stale Seedbed System Combining Precision Fertilizer Placement, Conservation Irrigation Management with Reduced Tillage Practices for Long Term Farm Sustainability

Project Overview

OS12-067
Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2012: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Dionicio Valdez
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Commodities

  • Agronomic: sorghum (milo)

Practices

  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Abstract:

    Introduction

    Develop an easily adaptable crop practice that farmers can implement without incurring major equipment costs, or changes to the land. This on farm research is partnering a local grower with Texas A&M Agrillife Research and Extension Personnel; Dr. Juan Enciso Research Agricultural rrigation Engineer (who is currently conducting research on Non-Point Source Pollution in the Arroyo Colorado), and Donnie Valdez Texas Water Resources nstitute/Institute of Renewable Natural Resources Agrillife Extension Outreach into the development of a practical and adaptable Best Management Practice in irrigated row crop production. The rationale behind this on-farm research is very simple. By using tools and methods already in place on the farm, just change the where, when and how on a few production practices to make a noticeable difference. Based on previous experience and familiarity with on-going research our goal is to improve the sustainability of current high yield narrow row farming in the region. We aim to incorporate a sustainable conservation approach to growing narrow row (30”) corn on a wide row (60”) so that a cropping system can be developed that will potentially offer water savings, decreased nutrient run-off in irrigation water,and increase soil health by reducing tillage throughout the cropping system.

    Project objectives:

    Focus areas of project are: 1. Reduce nonpoint source pollution runoff from row crop production: a. Follow Soil Sample Analysis recommendations b. Precise placement of soil fertilizers in the space between the rows, where no water will be directly applied by surface furrow irrigation. This is commonly called alternate row irrigation; in this project we are completely eliminating one furrow between rows. c. Manage herbicide placement to areas needed such as the non-tilled space between rows on wide seed bed (1st year) where furrow irrigation will not directly contact herbicide. 2. Reduce amount of water used for irrigation: a. rrigate only every other row or every 60 inches in 30 inch planted corn. Alternate row will be eliminated by removal of tillage in that area. b. Manage irrigation water sections or sets c. incorporate the use of Soil Moisture Measurement Tools by using soil tensiometers to determine crop water needs 3. improve the soil structure by: a. increased organic matter content in the topsoil layer by not using any tillage on the large bed system itself (2nd year) b. Reduction in loss of soil due to soil erosion c. increase the soil biological activity in the large undisturbed seedbed root-zone between the planted rows (2nd year) d. Decrease nutrient losses in surface/irrigation runoff 4. Decrease total inputs while still maintaining profitable yields: a. Less water units used to irrigate crop b. Less tillage requirements c. Long term buildup of nutrients thereby reducing future needs d. increases soil surface organic matter, reducing the need for herbicides. e. Increase total soil health by incorporating a muti-year reduced tillage stale seed bed practice.

    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.