To meet the requirements of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, there is a critical need for crop production strategies with less reliance on irrigation from surface and groundwater sources. One strategy for improving agricultural water use efficiency is reducing tillage and maintaining residues on the soil surface.
We evaluated high residue no-till versus standard tillage in the San Joaquin Valley with and without cover crops on the yields of two crops, garbanzo and sorghum, for 4 years. The no-till treatment had no primary or secondary tillage. Sorghum yields were similar in no-till and standard tillage systems while no-till garbanzo yields matched or exceeded those of standard tillage, depending on the year.
Cover crops had no effect on crop yields. Soil cover was highest under the no-till with cover crop system, averaging 97% versus 5% for the standard tillage without cover crop system. Our results suggest that garbanzos and sorghum can be grown under no-till practices in the San Joaquin Valley without loss of yield.