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Simulated Effects of Winter Wheat Cover Crop on Cotton Production Systems of the Texas Rolling Plains

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 60(6): 2083-2096. (doi: 10.13031/trans.12272) @2017
Authors:   Pradip Adhikari, Nina Omani, Srinivasulu Ale, Paul B. DeLaune, Kelly R. Thorp, Edward M. Barnes, Gerrit Hoogenboom
Keywords:   CERES-Wheat, Cover crop, Crop simulation model, CROPGRO-Cotton, DSSAT, Seed cotton yield, Soil water.

Abstract. Interest in cover crops has been increasing in the Texas Rolling Plains (TRP) region, mainly to improve soil health. However, there are concerns that cover crops could potentially reduce soil water and thereby affect the yield of subsequent cash crops. Previous field studies from this region have demonstrated mixed results, with some showing a reduction in cash crop yield due to cover crops and others indicating no significant impact of cover crops on subsequent cotton fiber yield. The objectives of this study were to (1) evaluate the CROPGRO-Cotton and CERES-Wheat modules within the cropping system model (CSM) of the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) for the TRP region, and (2) use the evaluated model to assess the long-term effects of growing winter wheat as a cover crop on water balances and seed cotton yield under irrigated and dryland conditions. The two DSSAT crop modules were calibrated using measured data on soil water and crop yield from four treatments: (1) irrigated cotton without a cover crop (CwoC-I), (2) irrigated cotton with winter wheat as a cover crop (CwC-I), (3) dryland cotton without a cover crop (CwoC-D), and (4) dryland cotton with a winter wheat cover crop (CwC-D) at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Station at Chillicothe from 2011 to 2015. The average percent error (PE) between the CSM-CROPGRO-Cotton simulated and measured seed cotton yield was -10.1% and -1.0% during the calibration and evaluation periods, respectively, and the percent root mean square error (%RMSE) was 11.9% during calibration and 27.6% during evaluation. For simulation of aboveground biomass by the CSM-CERES-Wheat model, the PE and %RMSE were 8.9% and 9.1%, respectively, during calibration and -0.9% and 21.8%, respectively, during evaluation. Results from the long-term (2001-2015) simulations indicated that there was no substantial reduction in average seed cotton yield and soil water due to growing winter wheat as a cover crop.

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