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  • Author or Editor: Jessica Petersen x
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Conservation tillage has the potential to decrease the environmental footprint of pumpkin production, but possible trade-offs with yield are not well understood. This study experimentally tested the effects of three cultivation techniques (conventional-till, strip-till, and no-till) on pumpkin production, weed pressure, soil moisture, and soil erosion. Randomized complete block field experiments were conducted on Cucurbita pepo L. ‘Gladiator’ pumpkins in 2014 and 2015. Overall yields were higher in 2015, averaging 45.2 t·ha−1, compared with 37.4 t·ha−1 in 2014. In 2014, pumpkin yields were similar across tillage treatments. In 2015, the average fruit weight of no-till pumpkins was significantly greater than strip-till and conventional-till pumpkins, which corresponded to a marginally significant 13% and 22% yield increase, respectively (P = 0.11). Weed control was variable between years, especially in the strip-till treatment. Soil moisture was consistently highest in the no-till treatment in both years of study. Conventional-till pumpkin plots lost ≈9 times more soil than the two conservation tilled treatments during simulated storm events. The 2015 yield advantage of no-till pumpkins seems related to both high soil moisture retention and weed control. Research results suggest that no-till and strip-till pumpkin production systems yield at least as well as conventional-till systems with the advantage of reducing soil erosion during extreme rains.

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