• Evaluation of Variable Rate Fertilizer Applications in an Arizona Cotton Production System

      Norton, E. R.; Clark, L. J.; Borrego, H.; Tronstad, Russell; Husman, Steve; Norton, Randy (College of Agriculture, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2005-05)
      A project was initiated in the 2004 cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) growing season in an effort to accomplish two major objectives. The first was to continue with phosphorus (P) fertilization evaluations that have taken place in the Upper Gila River Valley for the past four seasons by continuing to document the effects of P fertilization on crop yield and fiber quality. The second objective was to investigate the feasibility of utilizing a Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology for making variable rate (VR) applications of P fertilizers based upon yield data from the previous cropping season. Yield maps from a cotton picker mounted yield monitoring system were collected from the 2003 growing season and used to develop prescription applications of P fertilizers in the 2004 season. The project was established with four treatments including a control (Treatment 1 - 0 P fertilizer applied); a VR application treatment (Treatment 2 - received 52 lbs P/acre on average); a high Uniform Rate (UR) application (Treatment 3 - 75 lbs P/acre); and a low UR application (Treatment 4 - 45 lbs P/acre). These treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications. The size of each experimental unit was 0.7 acres. Lint yield results indicated a positive response to applied P fertilizers with treatments 2, 3, and 4 producing significantly higher yields than the control. Lint yield was not significantly affected by fertilizer application technique. Yield differences among the treatments receiving P fertilizer were minimal, particularly among treatments 2 and 3. However, it is important to note that the amount of P fertilizer used in treatment 2 was reduced by 27% with the use of the VR application technique. This produces an approximate $7/acre savings to the grower. This project will be continued in the 2005 growing season and will be expanded to investigate VR application technology in nitrogen (N) fertilization also.
    • Residual Soil Nitrogen Evaluations in Irrigated Desert Soils, 2004

      Silvertooth, J. C.; Galadima, A.; Norton, E. R.; Tronstad, Russell; Husman, Steve; Norton, Randy (College of Agriculture, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2005-05)
      Field experiments aimed at investigating N fertilizer management in irrigated cotton production have been conducted for the past 16 seasons at three Arizona locations on University of Arizona Agricultural Centers (Maricopa, MAC; Marana, MAR; and Safford, SAC). In 2004, residual N studies were conducted at two of these locations (MAC and MAR). The MAC and SAC experiments have been conducted each season since 1989 and the Marana site was initiated in 1994. The original purposes of the experiments were to test nitrogen (N) fertilization strategies and to validate and refine N fertilization recommendations for Upland (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and American Pima (G. barbadense L.) cotton. The experiments have each utilized N management tools such as pre-season soil tests for NO₃⁻-N, in-season plant tissue testing (petioles) for N fertility status, and crop monitoring to ascertain crop fruiting patterns and crop N needs. At each location, treatments varied from a conservative to a more aggressive approach of N management. Results at each location reveal a strong relationship between the crop fruit retention levels and N needs for the crop. This pattern was further reflected in final yield analysis as a response to the N fertilization regimes used. The higher, more aggressive N application regimes did not consistently increase yields at any location. Generally, the more conservative, feedback approach to N management provided optimum yields at all locations. In 2001, a transition project evaluating the residual N effects associated with each treatment regime was initiated and no fertilizer N was applied. Therefore, all N taken-up by the crop was derived from residual soil N. In 2001, 2002, 2003 and even 2004 there were no significant differences among the original fertilizer N regimes in terms of residual soil NO₃⁻-N concentrations, crop growth, development, lint yield, or fiber properties. The lint yields were very uniform at each location in 1991 and averaged 1500, 1100, and 850 lbs. lint/acre for MAC, MAR, and SAC, respectively. In 2002, results were very similar and yields averaged at 1473 and 1060 lbs. lint/acre for MAC and MAR locations respectively. The 2003 results were not different from the prior two years of results and yields averaged at 1322 and 1237 lbs. lint/acre for MAC and MAR respectively. In 2004, yields averaged 828 and 1075 lbs. lint/acre. Trends associated with residual fertilizer N effects are not evident at either location four seasons following N fertilizer applications.