Date of Award

8-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Plant Sciences

Major Professor

Harry Paul Denton

Committee Members

Gary Bates, J. E. Morrison Jr.

Abstract

There are several advantages of using conservation tillage management practices for burley tobacco production. These include reduced soil erosion, soil water conservation, and lower input costs. Inconsistent yields in past research and trials have made tobacco producers hesitant in adopting conservation tillage. This research was conducted near Springfield, Tennessee and Greeneville, Tennessee to investigate no-till and strip-till practices with different ground cover management techniques during winter and spring months in an effort to identify appropriate technologies. The first study evaluated cover management in established sod. Conventional tillage tobacco was compared to tobacco transplanted either no-till or strip-till into the following sod treatments: (a) spring killed sod, (b) fall killed sod without a winter cover crop, (c) fall killed, wheat cover, and (d) fall killed, rye cover.

The objectives of the second study were to explore the possibility of using cover crops for winter forage or straw production, harvested prior to the late-spring transplanting of the tobacco crop. In this study, conventional tillage tobacco was compared to tobacco transplanted either no-till or strip-till into the following ground cover treatments: (a) wheat cover, (b) wheat grazed, (c) rye cover, (d) rye grazed, (e) rye straw, and (f) soybean residue.

Conventional tillage produced higher tobacco yields than conservation tillage in three out of four tests. Conservation tillage yields in the sod test at Highland Rim were equal to conventional tillage. Treatments implementing strip tillage with low residue cover generally produced the highest tobacco yields of the conservation tillage treatments. This was probably a result of higher soil temperature due to lower residue cover and the tilled strip. Soil temperatures in these treatments were comparable to conventional tillage. Soil penetration resistance was also less in strip-till (ST) than in notill (NT), indicating a less consolidated rooting zone; this may have been another reason that ST yield was higher than NT.

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