Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) field studies were conducted under center pivot irrigation for 4 yr using large plots and standard industry cultural practices to evaluate tillage effects (reduced vs. conventional) and different N management practices (preplant plus in-season N rates of 56 + 280, 112 + 224, 112 + 336, and 112 + 112 kg N ha(-1)). Despite growing conditions that produced tuber yields up to 80 Mg ha(-1), potato size distribution and tuber specific gravity were similar across different tillage and N management practices with minor exceptions in one out of 4 yr. Reduced tillage avoided four equipment passes compared with conventional tillage. Tuber yield and quality were similar across all N rates. Increasing the frequency of in-season N application from five to 10 at a given N rate did not produce increased tuber yield or improved quality. This study demonstrated no negative effects of reduced tillage for irrigated potato production. The optimal N fertilization program appears to be 112 kg N ha(-1) preplant application and a similar in-season N rate in five applications on a 2-wk interval beginning 4 wk after seedling emergence. Therefore, reduced tillage offers an option for saving energy and labor costs without compromising tuber yield or quality, and thus provides an economic incentive in addition to the benefits of reducing soil erosion and enhancing soil biology and soil quality.
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