What is in this article?:
- Reduced-tillage, precision farming two more keys to peanut profits
- Wind damage can be a problem
- Mapping for precision
- No-till, strip-till and stale seedbed offer alternatives to traditional tillage methods.
- In strip-till, growers prepare a narrow band for planting. That helps with stand establishment. The stale seedbed may be a good compromise between conventional and no-till.
- Use of aerial, infra-red and GPS technology can offset the trend of bigger farms and fewer farmers, by making farms smaller.
NORTH CAROLINA Crop Consultant Daniel Fowler checks GPS maps on his truck laptop.
Wind damage can be a problem
“In sandier soils, Jordan notes, wind damage can be a significant problem. A wheat cover crop will often minimize wind damage on some of our sandier, lighter soils,” he adds.
Growers adopting reduced-tillage systems may need to devote more time to overall management of peanuts, particularly early in the season. This especially applies to weed management.
Selection and proper application timing of burndown herbicides is essential to providing a weed-free seedbed when peanuts emerge from the soil and begin early season grow-off.
Unfortunately, the heart of the peanut belt in the Southeast is too often also the heart of weed resistance, particularly Palmer amaranth resistance to glyphosate.
Though glyphosate is less widely used in peanut production systems than for cotton or soybeans, growers still need to be aware of their herbicide options for burndown and avoid using materials on peanuts that may be used in subsequent years on other crops.
Benefits of soil-incorporated herbicides will be minimized in reduced-tillage systems. Although some tillage can be performed in the strip-tillage operation, the degree of incorporation of herbicides is limited and often not uniform.
As more and more peanuts are grown in reduced-tillage systems, establishing adequate fertility levels, especially pH is critical. Movement of lime into the root zone may be slowed by using reduced-tillage systems, which can reduce both yield and quality of peanuts.
Quality can also be negatively affected by potassium. Growers need to be aware that potassium applied to the soil surface in reduced-tillage systems often doesn’t leach through the pegging zone of peanuts, and can delay or reduce calcium absorption by developing pegs.
Auburn University Plant Pathologist Austin Hagan has been tracking the affects of diseases on peanut production for the past 30 years or so. During his tenure, peanut tillage has changed dramatically, with varying impacts on disease management.
“Strip-tillage has been shown to have some strong advantages (including reduced soil erosion and reduced time and labor required for planting), but in some situations, yields have been disappointing.
“Unbiased tillage research is difficult to accomplish, but studies have consistently shown that peanuts grown in strip-till systems have less thrips damage and slightly less TSWV, which on-farm observations have confirmed,” he says.
Conservation-tillage, such as strip-tillage, can reduce the amount of disease in a peanut field. For a number of years it has been recognized that TSWV is less severe in strip-tilled than conventional-tilled fields.
In addition, leaf spot is also less severe in strip-tilled fields than in conventionally-tilled fields, so long as peanuts are not planted in consecutive years.
Although the exact mechanism is unknown, leaf spot onset is delayed in strip-till peanuts.
Conservation-tillage does not eliminate the need for fungicides to control leaf spot, but helps to insure added disease control from a fungicide program.
White mold pressure has not increased in strip-tillage above conventional-tillage, especially when peanuts are grown in rotation with cotton.
The Auburn researcher notes Rhizoctonia limb rot was not evaluated. However, cotton is a host for Rhizoctonia solani and the cotton debris would likely serve as a bridge between crops.