Conservation agriculture increases the soil resilience and cotton yield stability in climate extremes of the southeast US

Climate extremes pose a global threat to crop security. Conservation agriculture is expected to offer substantial climate adaptation benefits. However, synergistic effects of conservation practices on yield during normal versus extreme climates and underlying regulatory mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we analyze 29-years of climate data, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) yield, and soil data under 32 management practices in Tennessee, USA. We find that long-term no-tillage enhanced agroecosystem resilience and yield stability under climate extremes and maximized yield under favorable climate. We demonstrate that no-tillage benefits are tied with enhanced soil structural stability and organic carbon. No-tillage enhanced the effectiveness of legume cover crop in stabilizing cotton yield during relatively dry or wet, and dry years, while nitrogen fertilizer rate and precipitation timing, controlled yield stability in wetter years. Our findings provide evidence-based insights into how management strategies can enhance agroecosystem resilience and production stability in climate extremes.
© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Communications Earth and Environment, 2021, available online at: . Keywords: agroecology; environmental impact.
Nouri, A., Yoder, D.C., Raji, M. et al. Conservation agriculture increases the soil resilience and cotton yield stability in climate extremes of the southeast US. Commun Earth Environ 2, 155 (2021).