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Crop Biotech Update

Conservation Tillage Saves Oil, Soil and Toil in Cotton

August 3, 2012

The University of California's California Agriculture journal published the results of the study entitled "Conservation tillage systems for cotton advance in the San Joaquin Valley'. The study revealed that cotton grown in rotation with tomatoes – using lower-impact conservation tillage can achieve yields similar to standard cultivation methods and at a lower cost.

Specifically, from 2000-2011, at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Point, the number of tractor passes for a cotton-tomato rotation grown with a cover crop was reduced from 20 in the standard treatment to 13 with conservation tillage. Fuel use was reduced by 12 gallons and labor by 2 hours per acre in the conservation tillage plots. This amounted to savings of about $70 per acre in 2011 dollars, the paper said.

"The UC studies have consistently shown that conservation tillage can yield as well as standard tillage in a cotton-tomato rotation," said lead author Jeffrey P. Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.

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