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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUSTAINABLE AGRO-ECOSYSTEMS THAT CONTROL SOIL EROSION AND ENHANCE THE ENVIRONMENT

Location: Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research

Title: Field wind tunnel testing of two silt loam soils on the North American Central High Plains

Authors
item Van Pelt, Robert
item Baddock, Matthew -
item Zobeck, Teddy
item Schlegel, Alan -
item Vigil, Merle
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica

Submitted to: Aeolian Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2012
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Citation: Van Pelt, R.S., Baddock, M.C., Zobeck, T.M., Schlegel, A.J., Vigil, M.F., Acosta Martinez, V. 2013. Field wind tunnel testing of two silt loam soils on the North American Central High Plains. Aeolian Research. 10(1):53-59.

Interpretive Summary: Wind erosion and oxidation of soil organic matter are both soil degrading processes that negatively impact soil productivity and agricultural sustainability globally. The use of crop residues to make cellulosic ethanol may limit the amount of surface protection of soil surfaces during the fallow season. We tested two silt loam soils typical of those used for wheat production in the heart of the North American Central Great Plains to see if prior cropping system practices of tillage and crop rotation would affect the erodibility of bare soil. This information is essential for policy and best management practices development during the rise of the biofuels industry if soil loss and air quality degradation is to be minimized. We found that prior cropping system practices do not protect the bare soil from erosion and dust emissions and conclude that crop residue should not be completely removed from the soil surface.

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is a soil degrading process that threatens agricultural sustainability and environmental quality globally. Protecting the soil surface with cover crops and plant residues is a highly effective method for shielding the soil surface from the erosive forces of wind. Recently, advances in biofuel technology have made crop residues valuable feed stocks for ethanol production. Although much is known about crop residue and tillage system effects on soil surface erodibility, much less is known about cropping systems effects on intrinsic soil erodibility. We tested the bare, uniformly disturbed, surface of long-term tillage and crop rotation research plots containing silt loam soils in western Kansas and eastern Colorado with a portable field wind tunnel. We carefully removed the crop residues, uniformly prepared the surface, placed the wind tunnel working section on the prepared surface, and blew the surface with a wind velocity of 12 m s-1 0.5 m above the surface. Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) were measured using glass fiber filters filtering the flow from an isokinetically aspirated 3 mm wide slot sampler. Respirable dust, PM10 and PM2.5, were measured using optical particle counters sampling the flow between the slot sampler and the filters. The results indicated that cropping system history had no effect on intrinsic erodibility or dust emissions from the soil surfaces. We conclude that prior good management practices will not protect the soil from the erosive forces of wind if the protective mantle of crop residues is removed.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014