Variable Rate Application of Nematicides on Cotton Fields: A Promising Site-Specific Management Strategy
AbstractField tests were conducted to determine if differences in response to nematicide application (i.e., root-knot nematode (RKN) populations, cotton yield, and profitability) occurred among RKN management zones (MZ). The MZ were delineated using fuzzy clustering of five terrain (TR) and edaphic (ED) field features related to soil texture: apparent soil electrical conductivity shallow (ECa-shallow) and deep (ECa-deep), elevation (EL), slope (SL), and changes in bare soil reflectance. Zones with lowest mean values of ECa- shallow, ECa- deep, NDVI, and SL were designated as at greater risk for high RKN levels. Nematicide-treated plots (4 rows wide and 30 m long) were established in a randomized complete block design within each zone, but the number of replications in each zone varied from four to six depending on the size of the zone.The nematicides aldicarb (Temik 15 G) and 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D,Telone II) were applied at two rates (0.51 and 1.0 kg a.i./ha for aldicarb, and 33.1 and 66.2 kg a.i./ha for 1,3-D) to RKN MZ in commercial fields between 2007 and 2009. A consolidated analysis over the entire season showed that regardless of the zone, there were not differences between aldicarb rates and 1,3-D rates. The result across zones showed that 1,3-D provided better RKN control than did aldicarb in zones with low ECa values (high RKN risk zones exhibiting more coarse-textured sandy soils). In contrast, in low risk zones with relatively higher ECa values (heavier textured soil), the effects of 1,3-D and aldicarb were equal and application of any of the treatments provided sufficient control. In low RKN risk zones, a farmer would often have lost money if a high rate of 1,3-D was applied. This study showed that the effect of nematicide type and rate on RKN control and cotton yield varied across management zones (MZ) with the most expensive treatment likely to provide economic benefit only in zones with coarser soil texture. This study demonstrates the value of site specific application of nematicides based on management zones, although this approach might not be economically beneficial in fields with little variability in soil texture.
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