Lamar started using conservation tillage in 1977 to reduce
soil erosion, many unforeseen additional benefits have resulted.
Lamar's strip-till system saves many trips over the field
compared with conventional tillage systems commonly used
in the area. Time, fuel, labor and equipment repair savings
have also occurred. When he was using conventional tillage,
runoff would occur following the application of only 1/2
inch of irrigation water. After only three years of continuous
conservation tillage, Lamar found that he could apply over
1 1/2 inches of water without having any runoff. Runoff
from rainfall has also been drastically reduced, thereby
increasing the amount of infiltration and soil moisture
during the growing season and reducing the need for irrigation.
The crop residue on the soil surface also greatly reduces
the rate of evaporation. The reduction of runoff and the
increase in infiltration is a result of the improvements
in soil quality that have occurred on the Tilmanstone Farm.
Lamar started using conservation tillage, the soils on the
farm contained about 0.6% soil organic matter, which is
typical for these sandy textured soils of the Southern Coastal
Plain. The soil organic matter content in the top 1/2 inch
of soil now exceeds 3 percent. Not long ago, increasing
the amount of soil organic matter seemed impossible because
historically, agricultural research had shown that soil
organic matter levels could not be increased in these sandy
soils while they are being farmed. All of the research had
included tillage in the system. Once tillage is eliminated,
long-term conservation tillage will increase the amount
of organic matter in the soil.
disproved the old myth that you could not maintain soil
fertility and pH with surface applied fertilizer and lime.
Following several years of continuous conservation tillage,
he has found that his soil fertility levels are being maintained
at high levels and that the soil pH, even to a depth of
3 feet, is higher than when the fields were conventionally
tilled. Earthworms are also now being found in the crop
fields. None were present when the fields were conventionally
tilled. Bobwhite quail population is increasing on the farm
too. This is significant because the Georgia bobwhite quail
population is decreasing by about 3 percent each year. The
presence of crop residue year round on the soil surface
is providing food, cover and many other habitat benefits
to the bobwhite quail.
tests are taken and followed each year. His pest management
program includes scouting by a crop consultant. Lamar attempts
to use the latest agricultural technology available. He
was one of the first farmers in the southeast United States
to use hooded sprayers, paratilling and genetically engineered
crops such as Roundup Ready soybeans, Bt cotton, and RR
cotton. In 1998, Lamar experimented with eight acres of
ultra narrow row cotton. He was very satisfied with the
UNR cotton yields and plans to plant more in 1999.
is experimenting with cahaba white vetch (Vicia sativa X
Vicia cordata) followed by cotton. The vetch provides ample
amounts of residue that decomposes slower than most legume
residue. It also provides additional nitrogen and helps
to lessen the root knot nematode problem.