Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Todd Willian (Director), Becky Gilfillen, Jack Rudolph

Degree Program

Department of Agriculture

Degree Type

Master of Science


Dark tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) has historically been produced using
conventional tillage practices. Soil is cultivated multiple times throughout a growing season leading to an increased incidence of soil erosion. No-till systems have been growing in popularity with the advent of new technology that has enabled the practice to be performed effectively and efficiently. With the recent expansion of no-till practices throughout the agricultural community, many crops have had success in producing comparable yields while reducing input costs and saving soil resources. For this experiment, a traditional tobacco transplanter was modified for use in a no-till environment. All modifications were fabricated without using specialty tools and made possible to be removed if desired or necessary. Frame extensions were designed and built to accommodate row cleaners and coulters. Tillage shanks were also added to aid in optimal furrow formation. Double-disc opening shoes replaced the original round point shoes and the curved edges of the rear drive wheels were removed, creating a flat surface to increase soil contact. Experimental no-till plots in fescue sod and soybean chaff residues were conducted alongside conventional tillage plots at the Western Kentucky University Agricultural Research and Education Complex in summer 2011. Five treatments, one conventionally tilled (Conv) and four no-till, were replicated three times within a randomized complete block design and used to determine the efficacy of transplanter modifications (consistency of depth, furrow closure, observed plant damage), survival of the transplants, and the amount of residue displacement. The four no-till treatments utilized different combinations including: coulter, row cleaner and shank (CRS), row cleaner and shank (RS), coulter and shank (CS), and shank only (S). These treatments demonstrated the functionality of each combination in comparison to conventional treatments. No treatment performed equally well in both residue locations. Plots in fescue residue utilizing a combination of coulter, row cleaner, shank (CRS), exhibited the lowest amount of root exposure, highest survival rate, and comparable cured weight when compared to conventionally tilled treatments. In soybean residue plots, the treatment operating with row cleaners and shanks (RS) had equivalent amounts of furrow closure to conventionally tilled plots. Pairing specific modification combinations with previous crop residue can provide furrow closure, transplant survival, and cured yield equivalent to conventionally tilled dark tobacco.


Agricultural Science | Agriculture | Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Plant Sciences