With rainfall scarce and soil moisture critical for a decent yield, conservation tillage is a recommended option for Texas farmers, according to experts.

“Conservation tillage doesn't necessarily increase the soil moisture holding capacity,” Charles Stichler, a recently retired Texas Extension agronomist, told a group of farmers at the fall conservation tillage clinic in Thrall, TX. “Rain is beneficial only if you can catch it for later use.”

With drought conditions prevailing throughout Texas for much of the year, several key aspects of conservation tillage were discussed at the clinic. For starters, about 40 lbs. of lint can be produced for every 1 in. of water, Stichler says.

“Maintaining that soil moisture and preventing runoff is going to increase growing potential,” he says.

Strip tilling about 1 in. away from the old plant reduces compaction, he adds. Most adapted systems for dryland in Texas are ridge-till.

Above all, Stichler says to use conservation tillage because it reduces cost.