Soil Research Paper

Topics: Poa, Soil, Erosion Pages: 6 (3654 words) Published: November 3, 2014

http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewRept&pn=OS09-047&y=2011&t=1 Burley tobacco has been the primary crop grown on farms in Eastern Kentucky. Most farms are small (<20 acres) and burly tobacco provided farmers with a profitable crop (>$1500/acre returns) that could be grown with minimal inputs. Traditionally family members assisted with all aspects of tobacco production from planting though harvest and stripping. However, changes in the marketing system for tobacco have left many farmers without contracts and in search of alternatives that can be profitable on a small acreage. Vegetables represent a viable alternative in terms of profitability per acre, but many of the vegetable crops offering the highest returns also require substantial inputs of both capital and labor. Furthermore, most vegetable crops are perishable and require intense marketing to ensure that the product is sold prior to deteriorating. Therefore vegetables, in general, may not be good alternatives for tobacco, especially when growers may work off the farm and not have sufficient capital or marketing expertise to ensure success. Unlike tomatoes and other high-profit vegetables, sweetpotatoes are a crop that would be a good alternative for tobacco farmers. Sweetpotatoes require relatively low inputs (with the exception of the cost of slips) in terms of management and labor. They can be grown using bare-ground production techniques, and utilize already existing tobacco transplanting equipment. After planting the require some of the lowest inputs of all vegetable crops. Harvest can be done in a one-time manner and sweetpotatoes are a relatively long-storing crop when cured correctly offering the ability to market to several channels. Sweetpotatoes are also in-demand throughout Kentucky giving growers the ability to start small and sell their product through retail outlets. Despite requiring less management than other vegetables there were still several important questions that remain regarding sweetpotato production in Kentucky. What varieties are best suited to growing conditions here, should they be irrigated, what harvest methods work the best, are there appropriate low-cost curing and storage solutions, and what marketing channels are profitable for growers. The methods used to achieve each objective varied. Early in the project several growers and advisers toured Jones' sweetpotato farm and Strickland Bros. equipment in Bailey, NC. Mr. Jim Jones, proprietor, was extremely generous with his time and showed the groups around the farm allowing Kentucky growers to learn from a successful grower. After the initial trip to North Carolina our growers transplanted over 100,000 slips in 2009 and more than 150,000 in 2010. It was expected that more than 200,000 slips were going to be planted in 2010, but several growers did not want to increase production acreage. Yield data of three varieties, Beauregard, O'Henry, and Covington were collected at several farms in Eastern Kentucky (2009 + 2010 reports). Plantings of a given variety were fairly large (>1/4 acre). Yield data was obtained by choosing three-15 foot plots of each variety in each planting, harvesting and weighing roots. Data obtained from University research-farm plots was collected from four-50 foot plots of each variety. In 2010, 11 varieties were trialed at a University research-farm and Sarah Fannin's vegetable farm. In addition several growers tried different planting spacings at their farms. Yield data for different spacings was not collected. However each grower was consulted regarding their results with each spacing. Sweetpotatoes were irrigated at Fannin's vegetable farm and at University research-farms and yields compared to non-irrigated plots. Irrigated plots during 2009 and 2010 at University research-farm sites were approximately 150 feet long with four replications of 'Beauregard'. Yield and cull data was collected. A sweetpotato...
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