• 1999-present, University of Missouri Delta Center, Portageville, Mo. Research Associate.
• 1999-present, University of Missouri Delta Center, Portageville, Mo. Coordinate all data
collection from variety trials conducted at research station.
• Received B.S. degree in agronomy from Southeast Missouri State University, 1995.
• Candidate to receive M.S. degree in plant science in May of 2012 from Arkansas
Continuous change within agriculture is bringing change in research. From 2000 to 2008, research on bronze wilt, the proper date of irrigation termination, variety selection, defoliation timing and micronaire management were all “hot topics.” However, in the past couple of years, my research has switched to reducing labor and environmental issues.
Every year I make it a point to ask a handful of producers, “What questions would you like answered?” The reply I have received in the past couple of years has been, “Help us save money by reducing labor and trips across the field.” It’s difficult to find good labor, and with advanced equipment such as the new cotton pickers, the need for labor has been reduced. I had a producer tell me this year that with his new cotton picker his labor force during harvest was reduced from 14 employees down to four.
We all have a little “green” in us, right? More than ever, we hear about the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. This hypoxia zone, commonly referred to as the Dead Zone, is a 7,000-square mile area located in the Gulf of Mexico. This area has been contaminated by excess nutrients in field water runoff into streams and then on into the Mississippi River – eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, fish and other aquatic organisms have vacated the area along the coast due to this contamination.
We can “kill two birds with one stone” with efficient cotton nitrogen management. Finding ways to optimize nitrogen can reduce runoff and leaching as a preventative method to help preserve our water and wildlife and save a trip across the field.
In Missouri, our cotton nitrogen recommendation is a split application. Hopefully, the research I’m conducting with controlled release nitrogen (CRN) will be a means to apply all nitrogen preplant before the season gets busy and save time and expense of the mid-season application while overcoming the yield penalty of a pre-plant system. My goal is to discover the perfect combination and timing for liquid and granular CRN so the plant will have a sufficient amount throughout the growing season and decline at the end of the season so the plant isn’t still green and lush for defoliation.
Both liquid and granular CRN products are governed by soil temperature. Therefore, the release of nitrogen isn’t always the same. Sometimes the nitrogen isn’t released for 60-plus days. Consequently, a small amount of urea or ammonium nitrate needs to be blended with the CRN as a “kick start” for the plant in the early season when it doesn’t require much nitrogen – yet maximized at peak bloom when the plant requires the most nitrogen. I’m very fortunate to have all three soil types – sand, silt and clay at the University of Missouri farms to conduct the research to determine which soil type is more conducive to the CRN.
I’m also focusing my efforts on real-time reflectance sensor measurements for sidedress application. The sensors are a means to manage sidedress applications. They are attach-ed to equipment and read the color of the leaf to determine if more nitrogen needs to be applied at mid-season. Nitro-gen is applied immediately on the go.
However, more variables, such as growth regulators and drought stress, alter photosynthesis and play a vital role in the sensor readings. The research to fine-tune these sensors has been fascinating. Until the glitches are worked out, I’m committed to continue working on the sensors.
Nitrogen is the nutrient that shows the most response in cotton; therefore, research to enhance the effectiveness should be ongoing. I look forward to the next few years of continuing the research and getting the results to help reduce the runoff that has a negative effect in our waterways and also help producers reduce labor and fuel costs.
Andrea Jones is a Research Associate at the University of Missouri’s Delta Center in Portageville, Mo. Contact her at (573) 379-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.