Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 6, 2004
Publication Date: October 31, 2004
Citation: Lehrsch, G.A., Kincaid, D.C. 2004. Sprinkler droplet energy effects on sugarbeet emergence and surface soil aggregate size distribution [abstract]. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting. Paper No. 4313. Technical Abstract: High rates of droplet kinetic energy (DE) degrade surface soil structure, often leading to surface sealing and crusting. Modifying sprinkler irrigation systems to reduce droplet energy may lessen structural deterioration, thereby increasing seedling emergence. From 1997 to 2001, we evaluated the effects of sprinkler droplet kinetic energies of 0, 8, and 16 J/kg on sugarbeet (<I>Beta vulgaris</I> L.) seedling emergence and soil aggregate mean weight diameter, MWD (a measure of water-stable aggregate size distribution). Aggregates at the soil surface (0-5 mm) were collected after irrigating a structurally weak Portneuf silt loam (Durinodic Xeric Haplocalcid). To irrigate, we used a lateral-move sprinkler system with spray heads having smooth or spinning, four-groove deflector plates. We applied 15 mm of water to seeded field plots 2-4 times each year between planting and stand establishment. In four of five years, emergence increased linearly as DE decreased from 16 to 0 J/kg. On average, for every 10 J/kg decrease in DE, emergence increased by 8 percentage points. Five-year average MWD decreased by 10%, to 0.42 mm, with droplet energies of 8 J/kg or more. Trend analysis of 2000 & 2001 data revealed that MWD was decreased most by DE of 10 J/kg. Reducing sprinkler droplet energy below 10 J/kg increases emergence and minimizes soil structural breakdown.