The effects of variable-rate seeding on dryland cotton yield in West Texas



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West Texas has long been a major producer of cotton. Due to the decline of available water for irrigation, more land is being converted to dryland cotton production. Producers must find more efficient ways to maintain the current level of production with less irrigated land. Variable-rate seeding may be a technique that producers can use to reduce seed costs while maintaining current yields. The objective of this research is to evaluate variable-rate seeding in cotton and its impact on lint yield. Also addressed are the economics of implementing this new technique.

The research was conducted on a dryland cotton field in 2006 and 2007. The variations in soil type were measured and compared with a yield map from 2005. Populations of 74,100, 111,200, and 148,300 seeds/ha (30,000, 45,000, and 60,000 seeds/acre) were chosen. The populations were tested on a variety of soil types. Yield data was recorded with a cotton stripper-mounted yield monitor. The yield data was analyzed and averaged for each soil type. Due to the differences in weather between 2006 and 2007, the results were difficult to analyze. However, no significant difference was found between the mean lint yields of the population treatments in each year. The economic analysis found that there was no difference in the net returns per hectare between the three population treatments. Further research is needed before any conclusions can be made on the effects of variable-rate seeding on different soil types.