Achieving Soil Health
in Cotton Production Systems
By Alan Franzluebbers, Ph.D.
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
NC State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
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Agricultural production systems are continuously evolving to meet the demands of society. Making farming systems more sustainable in the eyes of the public may be good for addressing environmental quality issues, but is it good for production? This presentation will help consultants, growers, and other practitioners in the Southern U.S. cotton-producing states understand the science underlying soil health and help to demystify how to achieve healthy soil. Farmers and consultants will be introduced to the important processes in soil that comprise a healthy soil, a few key indicators for evaluating soil health, and some modeled and field results showing the value of no-till and cover crops on soil organic carbon and soil biological activity. In the end, practitioners will have a greater appreciation for how conservation agricultural management systems can be a model for balancing the perceived dichotomy between productivity and environmental quality.