Tillage and Fertilizer Placement Effects on Staked Tomatoes Were Inconsistent

in HortTechnology

This study compared conventional tillage (CT), strip tillage (ST), and no tillage (NT) cultures for effects on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) fruit production. Within each tillage system, fertilization treatments were 60 lb/acre (67.2 kg·ha-1) of nitrogen (N) applied as potassium nitrate in four ways: a 2-ft-wide (0.6 m) strip over the row before transplanting, a 4-ft-wide (1.2-m) strip over the row before transplanting, N banded 6 inches (0.15 m) to the side and 4 inches (0.10 m) below the plant after transplanting, or applied through the drip irrigation system. A treatment of no fertilizer was included in the 1996 study but was discontinued in 1998 and 1999 because yields were low and this would not be a recommended practice in Tennessee. Tillage treatments had no effect on early small, medium, or large tomato yields. In 2 of the 3 years, either ST or CT treatments resulted in the highest total yields. Highest early yields were often produced by applying N in either 2-ft or 4-ft, strips over the row before transplanting. Highest late-season yields were obtained from plants receiving N applied as a band beside the row after transplanting. Results suggest that tomato yield under minimal tillage (ST or NT) was at least equivalent to CT in most years. When the economic benefits of minimal tillage are considered, these results imply that minimal tillage cultural practices are advantageous in tomato production.

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corresponding author (jwyatt6@utk.edu),
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