4R Farming

Louisiana Cotton

This is a multi-generational family farm in Louisiana that includes cotton as part of a multi-crop rotation. The farm has a focus on sustainability and soil health. Increasing acres with conservation tillage, cover crops, and zone management is part of that approach. Cotton was grown on the farm in 2014 and 2017.

Between 2014 and 2017 the farm changed equipment for planting and in-season nutrient applications and implemented variable rate fertilizer applications based on zone soil sampling. Average cost per acre in 2014 for nutrient application was $107. In 2017, cost averaged $76. The impact of variable rate applications was compared across four fields where cotton was grown in 2017. Decreases among the fields in 2017 were related to lower fertilizer costs and lower variable costs with equipment.

Download Case Study


Implementing 4R practices across fields in 2017 decreased cost per acre and improved nitrogen use efficiency.

Cost of 4R Practice Implementation for Louisiana Cotton

Yield Range 621 to 1050 lbs of lint/ac

Practices Changed from Basic to Advanced

  • Implemented zone soil sampling and variable rate fertilizer applications
  • Changed starter placement to injected 2×2 banding versus surface applications

Between 2014 and 2017 the farm changed the placement of the starter (18-18-0) from surface to injected 2×2 below the soil surface. The farm also variable rate fertilizer application to 2017 management which resulted in differences in cost among fields.