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Conservation tillage to effectively reduce interrill erodibility of highly-weathered Ultisols

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Highly weathered Southeastern soils traditionally cropped under conventional tillage systems are drought-prone and susceptible to runoff and soil loss. We quantified differences in infiltration, runoff, soil loss, and interrill erodibilities (Ki) for three soils: Compass loamy sand, Decatur silt loam, and Tifton loamy sand managed under conventional- (CT), strip- (ST), and/or no-till (NT) systems with and without a residue cover (rye [Secale cerale L.]) (+C/-C) and with and without paratilling (+P/-P). Duplicate plots (1 m2 [approximately 10 ft2]) on each tillage treatment received simulated rainfall (50 mm h-1 [2 in hr-1] for two hours). Runoff and sediment yields were continuously measured, and Ki values were calculated from measured data. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model was used to extend experimental data to long-term annual trends. For the Compass soil, NT-C plots increased runoff by as much as 43% and sediment yields by as much as 10-fold compared to NT+C plots. The NT+P+C plots decreased runoff by as much as 70% and sediment yields by 24-fold compared to CT-P-C. For the Decatur soil, NT+P plots decreased runoff by as much as 71% and sediment yields by as much as 2.7-fold compared to NT-P plots. The NT+P+C plots decreased runoff by as much as 73% and sediment yields by as much as 11.8-fold compared to CT-P-C. For the Tifton soil, ST+P+C plots decreased runoff by as much as 44% and sediment yields by as much as 2.7-fold compared to CT-P-C plots. Calculated Ki values for the Compass, Decatur, and Tifton soils were 0.37, 0.40, and 0.24, respectively. Residue cover decreased effective interrill erodibilities (Kieff) values by 11%, 2-fold, and 2.6-fold for the Decatur, Tifton, and Compass soils, respectively; Paratilling decreased Kieff values by 3-fold for the Compass and Decatur soils. The NT and/or ST systems had lower Kieff values than Ki values from corresponding CT-P-C treatments (Compass = 4- to 37-fold; Decatur = 4- to 13-fold; Tifton = 2-fold). Converting from a CT to a NT or ST system reduced predicted runoff (Compass = 1.7-fold; Decatur = 10% to 17%; Tifton = 1.6- to 2.3-fold) and sediment yields (Compass = 10- to 12-fold; Decatur = 6- to 33-fold; Tifton = 7.3- to 12.1-fold). The most benefit of NT or ST, as quantified by the maximum difference in 100-year predicted runoff and sediment yields, was for the Compass (78%) and Tifton (75%) soils for runoff and for the Compass (10.3-fold) and Decatur soils (9.7-fold) for sediment. Conservation tillage systems (NT, ST) coupled with surface residue cover and/or paratilling are effective in reducing runoff and sediment yields from highly-weathered soils by lowering effective Ki values.
Truman, C.C. , Shaw, J.N. , Flanagan, D.C. , Reeves, D.W. , Ascough, J.C. II
Ultisols , loamy sand soils , silt loam soils , soil weathering , conservation tillage , conventional tillage , no-tillage , best management practices , erosion control , runoff , water erosion , infiltration (hydrology) , erodibility , soil properties , hydrologic models , simulation models , Alabama
p. 265-275.
Includes references
Journal of soil and water conservation 2009 July-Aug, v. 64, no. 4
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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