Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast


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Conservation tillage on the Southern Coastal Plain and Atlantic Coast Flatwoods MLRAs grew dramatically with the introduction of herbicide-resistant crops, especially with the widespread use of glyphosate-resistant technology. Sole use of this technology has resulted in herbicide-resistant weeds. These weeds threaten the gain in growth of conservation tillage as some weed specialists are now recommending tillage as an option to control these weeds.

Whether resistant weeds are present or not, there are keys to successful conservation tillage management in these two regions.

  • Manage residues. Use crop rotations and cropping systems that provide abundant residues to build soil organic matter.
  • Get good stand establishment. Use planting or transplanting equipment capable of uniformly placing seeds or transplants into soils covered with residues.
  • Manage weeds. Use crop rotations, management practices and herbicide mode-of-action rotations to combat herbicide-resistant weeds and reduce the chance of resistance developing.
  • Manage soil compaction. Use crop rotations and cover cropping to build organic matter, and use subsoiling implements when necessary to overcome the inherent high bulk density in these soils.
  • Find a mentor. Growers transitioning to conservation tillage from conventional tillage can benefit from a local mentor with experience in conservation tillage. A mentor can be a farmer, Cooperative Extension agent, or representative from the local SWCD, cooperative or NRCS office. Pull together a team to take advantage of local conservation tillage experience as well as government cost-sharing programs.

Download the tables from Chapter 18.