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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effectiveness of Sugarcane Residue and Polyacrylamide in Reducing Soil Erosion from Quarter-Drains under Southern Louisiana Weather Conditions

Authors
item Kornecki, Ted
item Grigg, Brandon
item Fouss, James
item Southwick Jr, Lloyd

Submitted to: Proceedings of American Society of Agricultural Engineers
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2004
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Citation: Kornecki, T.S., Grigg, B.C., Fouss, J.L., Southwick Jr, L.M. 2004. Effectiveness of sugarcane residue and polyacrylamide in reducing soil erosion from quarter-drains under southern louisiana weather conditions. In: Proceedings of American Society of Agricultural Engineers, August 1-4, 2004, Ottawa, Canada.

Interpretive Summary: Historically, soil surface cover from crop residue has been known to reduce rainfall energy responsible for soil erosion. The primary benefits of crop residues are reduction of soil erosion, improvement of soil properties, and reduction of soil surface sealing effect. Crop residue is increasingly being used as a major tool to reduce the loss of one of our most valuable natural resources, topsoil. Conservation practices encourage the use residue as a protective blanket from rainfall and to enrich soil structure by increased organic matter content. In recent years, Polyacrylamides (PAM) have also been used to reduce soil erosion. Because of positive reports regarding a high PAM effectiveness in soil erosion reduction in the Western U.S., PAM was used in our study as a water solution sprayed directly into quarter-drains. Based on four storm events with a total rainfall of 10.5 cm, sugarcane residue left on site significantly reduced soil deposition in quarter drains by 40% overall compared with residue removed from site by burning. For soil with bulk density of 1.45 Mg/m3, the average soil loss reduction from these storms using residue cover was 1.7 kg/m of the quarter-drain. However, PAM was ineffective during the entire experiment most likely due to its breakdown caused by sun's UV energy, chemical degradation and PAM's structural break-up due to soil shrinking.

Technical Abstract: Each spring, quarter-drains (small ditches perpendicular to sugarcane rows) are re-conditioned to transfer runoff from furrows to main ditches. Bare soil surface in quarter-drains and furrows are exposed to intense storms. Rainfall energy from these storms causes detachment of soil particles and sediment transport from furrows through quarter drains to main ditches. Sediment diminishes capacity of these structures, thus requiring cleanup and increasing maintenance cost. To improve quarter drain function, an experiment was conducted to study effects of sugarcane residue and Polyacrylamide (PAM) on a reduction of soil sediment from quarter-drains under natural weather conditions in spring 2003. Based on four storm events, PAM was ineffective in reducing soil sediment when compared with residue left. PAM effectiveness was inhibited by abnormally dry weather conditions in spring, 2003 and it appears that PAM's ineffectiveness was related to the polymer's degradation. However, sugarcane residue left on the field significantly reduced soil sediment by 40% in quarter-drains compared to residue removed by burning. There was a poor correlation between rainfall amount and soil loss, and no correlation found between rainfall intensity and soil loss.

Last Modified: 11/1/2014
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