SSS11.8Cotton production practices impacts soil quality
Global cotton production increased from 52 m. tons in 2000 to 72.5 m. tons in 2010. This has been possible due to improved management practices, cultivation of the genetically modified cottons. Over the years, there has been a shift in the production techniques such as genetically modified (GM) cottons replacing the traditional non GM varieties/hybrids; wide spaced to the narrow row spacing; use of hand hoes to herbicides; use of manures to fertilizers; hand picked cotton to machine picked cottons; intensive tillage to conservation tillage and so on. These practices would have affected the soil resource base.
This session is specially devoted to gather cotton researchers from various cotton growing regions in the world and understand better the impact of the changes in management practices to the soil. We also propose to make an action plan for what needs to be done to maintain the sustainability of cotton production in the future. Another major issue is Organic cotton production and soil compaction. There is a growing demand for organically grown cotton and substantial progress has been done in the last decade for maintaining the soil fertility and the use of bio-pesticides. We plan to address the issue of organic cotton cultivation and soil quality.
Soil degradation is a major problem the world over attributed to soil compaction, i.e. decrease in pore space and increase of dry bulk density resulting in increased soil erosion. Soil compaction due to the use of heavy agricultural machinery induces rut formation at the soil surface and a reduction of soil porosity underneath the soil-wheel contact zone.
Problems of soil degradation may get worse with an anticipated change in climate. Increasing surface temperatures, sea water levels and changes in the intensity and precipitation are to be expected. Both changes in distribution and intensity of rainfall affect crop growth and soil trafficability and workability. For the long-term changes, agriculture is able to tolerate moderate variations in the climatic mean. Changes beyond these bands of tolerance may require appropriate management practices, which are tailored to the climate variability of the region, such as: changes in cultivars and crops; use of suitable machinery, in terms of axle load, tyre size and inflation pressure; optimal time of sowing and tillage; or conversion to different land uses, such as minimum or zero tillage.
To avoid soil compaction, to increase energy efficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emission, technologies as: controlled traffic farming (CTF) (agricultural robots and modelling), GPS, GIS, soil qualities mapping to manage different kind of soil tillage can be considered as agricultural practices of mitigation and adaptation in a changing climatic scenario.
Key words: crop production; Bt transgenic cotton, conservation tillage and controlled traffic farming; soil compaction; crop yield mapping; soil qualities mapping, climatic changes.