With more than 40 stops, this year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day offered a jam-packed tour of the very latest in cutting-edge technology along with long-running production and variety trials.

The field day offers a preview of what can be seen at this year’s 35th Sunbelt Ag Expo, set for Oct. 16-18.

About 400 people rode trams into the fields of the Darrell Williams Research Farm in Moultrie, Ga., to hear agricultural company representatives and University of Georgia researchers present their latest findings.

New to the Expo site this year was a melon and cotton intercropping system initiated by Brian Tankersley, Tift County, Ga., Extension coordinator.

The system, which has been tested in other locations since 2010, aims to improve profits for spring vegetable producers by planting cotton alongside curcubits like cantaloupes and watermelons.

At the Expo site, cantaloupes and watermelons were transplanted into fields between March 18 and April 25. Between April 18 and May 25, herbicide-resistant cotton was then seeded in between the melon plants.

After the melons were ready for harvest, herbicide was sprayed to burn down the remaining curcubit vegetation, leaving the cotton to mature for the rest of the growing season.

Tankersley says that previous research with five growers on 385 acres revealed that cantaloupe and watermelon yields were comparable to the yields of those same crops when grown alone. Melon harvest did not damage young cotton plants, and cotton planting did not delay melon harvest.

In several locations, cotton yielded more than 1,100 pounds per acre in later plantings after July 10.  Also, economic returns and profitability of cotton compared to late-planted grain sorghum is very positive toward cotton inter-cropping, reports Tankersley.

Researchers continue to evaluate weed control management and pesticide compatibility issues.

Also at Field Day, University of Georgia Extension Forage Specialist Dennis Hancock discussed the benefits of interseeding alfalfa in bermudagrass.

The system, he says, allows farmers to grow their own nitrogen and increase the quality of their forage by 30 or more RFQ points. It also makes an excellent supplemental feed and/or cash hay crop.

Alfalfa, he explains, fixes nitrogen and virtually eliminates the cost of purchasing additional nitrogen fertilizer. In addition, growing alongside bermudagrass helps alfalfa dry faster, allowing it to be harvested more cleanly.

“Growers need to select a well-drained site for planting,” says Hancock. “Soil-test the site and lime and fertilize according to recommendations. The ideal pH level for the combination of bermudagrass and alfalfa is 6.5.”

Hancock stresses the need to follow fertility recommendations for potassium, with concentrations of 250 to 300 pounds per acre. The micronutrients boron and molybdenum should also be present for nitrogen fixation.

The ideal planting time for the Coastal Plains region, he says, is Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, and berumdagrass should be very short when planting. He advises planting with a no-till drill at a seeding rate of 22 to 25 pounds per acre in 7 to 9-inch rows. Plantings should be no deeper than one-half inch.