Abstracts

Tillage and Cover Crop Effects on Runoff Water and Soil Quality

Author(s): Locke, M.; Krutz, J.; Steinriede, W.; Dabney, S.

Conservation management systems need to be assessed in the lower Mississippi River alluvial basin to balance production goals with environmental concerns. Complementary approaches for assessing effects of tillage and cover crops on water and soil quality in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production are reviewed here. In Study 1, no-tillage (NT) or minimum tillage (MT) with or without cover crop (rye [Secale cereale], balansa clover [Trifolium michelianum ssp. Balansae], or none) treatments were assessed from 2001 to 2006 for changes in soil characteristics and production. In 2007, a rainfall simulation study was conducted to evaluate treatment effects on runoff. In Study 2, NT, MT, MT with rye cover, and conventional tillage (CT) were assessed for effects on soil changes (2003 to 2011) and runoff water quality (2007 to 2011). Synthesis of results from these studies indicated that: (a) Cover crop and reduced tillage resulted in modest increases in soil organic matter and soil nitrogen; (b) Soil biological activity was enhanced by cover crops (e.g., enzymes, mycorrhizae); © Total runoff sediment loss was reduced by no-tillage and cover crop; (d) Nitrogen and phosphorus associated with runoff sediment were reduced in no-tillage and cover crop; € Soluble nitrogen and phosphorus in runoff was variable, sometimes higher in no-tillage and cover crop plots.
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