No-till cotton makes sense for Oklahoma.
A no-till production system makes economic and environmental sense for Oklahoma summer crop production.
“I think the greatest no-till benefit is for summer crops,” said Rick Kochenower, Oklahoma State University Research and Extension specialist, during a recent Tipton Valley Research Center field tour.
Shane Osborne, OSU associate Extension specialist, agrees and said cotton is a good fit for no-till production.
Osborne and Kochenower were part of a field day and dedication ceremony for the recently completed research facility that replaces one destroyed by a 2011 tornado.
“I think no-till has a great fit with grain sorghum,” Kochenower said. “We’ve seen a 28 bushel per acre yield increase with no-till versus conventional tillage in Oklahoma Panhandle trials.”
“No-till has been very successful in cotton,” Osborne added during a cotton research project stop.
He said a marriage of technology and education makes no-till a successful practice in cotton. “The concept of no-till has been around for more than 50 years,” he added. “Folks were aware of the advantages of no-till that far back. They knew of no-till’s benefits—increased organic matter and improved moisture-holding capacity. But they did not have the technology that we have today.”
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Crucial technology emerged in the mid-1990s. “We were still antagonized by the boll weevil,” Osborne said. “But we used technology with the boll weevil eradication program to get rid of that pest. That success allowed us to invest in technology being developed—herbicide resistant varieties. That technology has been a good tool for cotton and changed the cotton business tremendously. Herbicide resistant cotton was a game changer and we became educated on how to use that technology.”
Adoption of glyphosate resistant varieties may have been a bit too successful, however, especially when used as the sole means of weed control. “Around 2005, resistant pigweed began to show up in Georgia,” Osborne explained. “Some observers thought that was the beginning of the end for herbicide resistant technology, especially in the Southeast. And resistance also showed up across the Mid-south and then in the South Plains and in this area (Southwest Oklahoma). That also changed the way we do business.”