Start Date: May 06, 2006
End Date: May 19, 2010
Tillage practices that retain residue on the soil surface typically improve water availability to crops by increasing infiltration and/or ameliorating micrometeorological factors that drive the evaporation process. Because of limitations in sensor technology, past research studying water storage and use by crops has not elucidated the tillage induced changes in short-term processes that govern water infiltration, redistribution, and evaporation. Knowledge of the relative importance of each of these processes during a growing season will facilitate refinement of models to simulate seasonal water balance and assist in assessing the merits of alternative management practices. In addition, long-term studies used to quantify cumulative benefits of reduced tillage to increase crop yield, water use efficiency, and soil conservation for established wheat-sorghum-fallow crop rotations will be modified for comparisons of tillage benefits on annual sorghum-cotton crop rotations. Therefore, several experiments focusing on different hydrological aspects and time scales will investigate management effects on soil water and availability to crops.