Conservation Tillage Effects on Infiltration and Irrigation Advance Times
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
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AbstractField experiments were initiated at sites in Marana, Coolidge and Goodyear, Arizona, in the Fall of 2001, in a cotton-based, conservation tillage project. In the 2002 cotton season, following cover and grain crops, soil and water management assessments were made to evaluate the impact of conservation tillage on surface irrigation performance. An additional site was added in the winter of 2002 at Maricopa, Arizona. Analyses included soil texture, infiltration rate and water advancement. At Coolidge, the Conservation plots had higher infiltration rates and longer advance times than the Conventional plots in 2002, 2003 and 2004. At Marana, infiltration rates were initially higher for the Conservation plots but the rates converged at the end of four hours in 2002. In 2003, the Conventional plots infiltrated about one inch more and the opposite occurred in 2004, where the Conservation plots infiltrated about 1 inch more than the Conventional. The advance times for Marana showed the water in the Conventional wheel rows to be the fastest. At Goodyear, the Conservation plots infiltrated more than the Conventional plots in 2002. This also resulted in a slower advance time for the Conservation plots. In 2003, due to tillage by the grower, treatment effects could not be compared and the site was abandoned in 2004. At Maricopa, the Conservation plots infiltrated almost 2.2 inches more water than the Conventional plots and the water reached the end of the field three hours ahead of the fastest Conservation plot in 2003. In 2004, the Conservation plot infiltrated just over 1½ inches more water than the Conventional plots with the Conventional plots having faster advance times. Seasonal irrigation water applications to each treatment were relatively equal for all the sites with the exception of Coolidge. Here, the long field combined with sandy soil made it difficult to adequately irrigate the Conservation plots. In 2002, an additional 21 inches of water was applied to the Conservation plots. In 2003, that amount was reduced to 12.5 inches. The 2004 irrigation data are not yet available. The yield data show a significant difference between years and different sites. In 2002, only the yields measured at Coolidge were significantly different with the Conservation yielding higher than the Conventional. This may have been due to the increase water application. In 2003, the opposite occurred and the Conventional plots yielded more than the Conservation plots. This may have been due to herbicide damage. At Maricopa the Conventional plot also yielded more than the Conservation plot in 2003 but there was no measured difference in 2004. The Marana site had equal yields for both treatments except for the final year, 2004, when the Conventional yielded higher than the Conservation treatment. Indications are that conservation tillage does impact irrigation performance and it may not be suitable for all locations depending on soil type and field layout.