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Effects of Tillage and Irrigation Management on Sugarbeet Production

David D. Tarkalson, Bradley A. King
Agronomy journal 2017 v.109 no.5 pp. 2396-2406
Beta vulgaris, conventional tillage, cost effectiveness, crop yield, deficit irrigation, drought, ecosystem services, evapotranspiration, growing season, irrigation management, models, nitrates, plant-water relations, production technology, runoff, silt loam soils, soil-plant interactions, strip tillage, sucrose, sugar beet, water shortages, Idaho
CORE IDEAS: Strip tillage and conventional tillage had the same sugar yields under all irrigation levels. Relationships between water input/use and sugarbeet yields were established. Sucrose yields were the same under strip tillage and conventional tillage. Strip tillage reduced runoff and increase water inflitration compared to conventional tillage. Increased water demands and drought have resulted in a need to determine the impact of tillage and deficit water management practices in irrigated sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.) production. This study was conducted over three growing season (2011–2015) at the USDA‐Agricultural Research Service facility in Kimberly, ID, on a Portneuf silt loam soil. Treatments consisted of two tillage treatments (strip tillage [ST] and conventional tillage [CT]) and four water input treatments ranging from 100 to 25% of model calculated crop evapotranspiration [ETc]). Estimated recoverable sucrose (ERS) yield, root yield, and sucrose and brei nitrate concentrations were similar for ST and CT across all water treatments. Strip tillage reduced runoff compared to CT. Across all years, quantitative relationships between both actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) and water input, and sugarbeet yield and quality variables were developed. Significant positive linear relationships were found between ETa and sugarbeet ERS and root yields (r² values of 0.84 and 0.91, respectively). Estimated recoverable sucrose and root yields increased at rates of 28.5 kg ha⁻¹ mm⁻¹ ETa and 0.194 Mg ha⁻¹ mm⁻¹ ETa, respectively. Equal yield potential for ST, tillage cost savings, and agronomic and environmental benefits associated with soil surface residue indicates ST can be implemented successfully in sugarbeet production systems. The developed quantitative relationships between both ETa and water input, and sugarbeet yield and quality variables can be used to help understand sugarbeet production under deficit irrigation conditions, which may arise due to water shortage scenarios.