Southern Pea (Vigna unguiculata) Production Under Conservation Tillage Systems in North Carolina

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2021: $18,730.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Mount Olive
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jason Davis
University of Mount Olive



  • Agronomic: peas (field, cowpeas)


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    To address the lack of information on alternative tillage systems for Southern pea, research is required.  The goal of the proposed research is to gain technical and financial information on Southern pea production in different conservation tillage systems using two cultivars.  The cultivars selected for the study may be harvested mechanically which is a key component of future commercial scale Southern pea production. 

    The conservation tillage systems to be tested are no-till and strip till.  Comparisons of conservation and conventional tillage practices will be made to elucidate information on costs and benefits.  Comparisons of yield performance (and financial data) of two cultivars will be among the primary data variables collected and analyzed.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The proposed research will be conducted for two years beginning April 1st, 2021 at the University of Mt Olive Kornegay Student Farm in Mt Olive, NC.  The study will be set up as a split plot design with four blocks.  The main plot treatments will be cultivars: Quick Pick and Texas Pink Eye.  The subplot treatments will consist of different tillage systems: no-till, strip-till, and conventional tillage.  There will be 15 treatment subplots with dimensions of 25m by 5m. 

    Research study establishment

    Cereal rye (cv. ‘Wrens Abruzzi’) was planted at a rate of 100 lbs./ac in the research area (Goldsboro sandy loam soil) at Kornegay Student Farm in October 2020.  The rye will receive fertilizer (40 lbs. N, 40 lbs. P2O5, 40 lbs. K2O-based on soil test report) in the spring 2021. 

    Research area preparation

    Rye in each tillage treatment will be bush-hogged after seed heading to allow biomass to dry down and to minimize regrowth.  The tillage treatments will be implemented after mowing and fertilizer application. 

    Fertilizer will be broadcast across the research area at a rate of 40 lbs./ac of potash and 40 lbs./ac of gypsum. 

    Tillage treatments will be implemented as follows:

    Conventional till

    The plots will be disced in as needed (number of passes and timing will be recorded) to prepare the seed bed.  To control weeds, a tine weeder and rotary cultivator will be used as needed (each cultivation will be recorded).  No herbicides will be used. 

    Strip till

    The plots will be prepared for planting with a CaseIH strip tiller.  The strip width will be 12 inches.  To control weeds, a tine weeder and rotary cultivator will be used as needed (each cultivation will be recorded).  No herbicides will be used. 

    No till

    The plots will be planted with a CaseIH no till planter.  A rotary cultivator may be used to control weeds (each cultivation will be recorded).  No herbicides will be used.


    The purple hull Southern Pea cultivars ‘Quick Pick’ and ‘Texas Pink Eye’ will be planted at a rate of 5 seeds/ft. on 40 in. row spacing (Univ of Ark production guide ref).  Seed depth will be approximately one inch.  Seeding rate and depth will be consistent across all tillage systems.  Rhizobia inoculant (Exceed) powder will be added to the planting boxes during seeding.  

    Pest management

    The research area will be scouted weekly starting at week two after emergence.  Insect and diseases will be managed by organic methods.  Note that organic pest (insect and disease) management practices are being utilized in the study to promote sustainability.  Synthetic pesticides (for insect and disease management) can easily be substituted if a farmer deems them necessary. Weeds will be managed by a tine weeder and rotary cultivator as mentioned above. 


    The beans will be harvested at the “mature green stage”.  This stage is reached when the peas are filled, but not yet mature.  The plots will be manually harvested (see below for details) for data analysis purposes. As an additional component for demonstration, following the research data collection, an Oxbo Pixall one row harvester will be used to demonstrate mechanical harvesting techniques for each cultivar. 

    Data analysis

    Yield of each subplot will be measured by manual harvests.  Three transects (1m x 1m each) will be randomly collected from each subplot (avoiding edge of subplots-1 m from edges).  Pea pods and peas will be separated, dried, weighed and recorded.  Financial information will be collected by main plot and subplot treatment including variable costs.  Yield data will be analyzed using ANOVA for split-plot designs in Systat SigmaPlot Software (V. 13.2).    

    Equipment needs

    The strip till and no till equipment will be provided by B & S Enterprises in Wilson, NC. All other equipment (disc, tine weeder, rotary cultivator, and Pixall harvester-for mechanical demonstration) is available at the UMO Kornegay Student Farm. 

    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.