Drs. Daniel Leskovar, Yahia Othman and Xuejun Dong at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center have been researching conservation tillage methods that may offer benefits to high-value crops and the effect of strip tillage on soil biological activity.
The study, titled “Strip tillage improves soil biological activity, fruit yields and sugar content of triploid watermelon,” investigated the influence of strip and conventional tillage practices at different water levels on the morphology, physiology, yield and quality of the seedless Majestic watermelon variety. The results showed strip tillage not only had a positive effect on watermelon quality and yield, it also had a positive effect on the soil’s biological activity.
“Research has been done on the use of conservation tillage for traditional crops, but there’s not much out there on using conservation tillage to produce high-value crops,” said Dr. Leskovar. “Despite the economic importance of watermelon in the U.S., which the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates $483 million annually, no study we know of has assessed the influence of strip tillage on this crop.”