48th TWC, Tob. Work. Conf., 2018, abstr. 63

Strip-tillage vs. no-tillage for Burley and dark tobacco production

PEARCE B.; BAILEY W.A.
University of Kentucky, Lexington KY USA

Historically tobacco growers have used intensive tillage practices to prepare land for tobacco production. Conservation tillage practices can help tobacco growers retain soil productivity by reducing soil erosion losses, and maintaining soil organic matter and structure. The adoption of conservation tillage practices has been relatively slow among tobacco growers. No-tillage can be defined as a production system in which the only soil disturbance is done at the time of planting and results in 10 to 15% of the soil area being disturbed. Strip-tillage typically involves one or more tillage passes prior to planting and may result in up to 50% disturbance of the soil area. In well drained soils of medium texture no-tillage and strip tillage have been shown to be approximately equal in yield potential to conventional tillage for tobacco production. On soils with drainage concerns or elevated clay contents no-tillage often results in lower yield than strip tillage or conventional tillage. Strip tillage also allows fertilizer and chemicals to be incorporated in the strips prior to planting. In one study it was observed that yields of strip tillage were similar when 75% of the recommended fertilizer was banded in the strip compared to the full rate broadcast. Strip tillage may be a better option for growers with heavy soils, but it is less effective at reducing soil erosion losses than no-tillage. With appropriate attention to management both no-tillage and strip-tillage can be used for burley or dark tobacco production. (Reprinted with permission)