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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS TO SUSTAIN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS

Location: Soil Management Research

Title: Soil Properties and Productivity as Affected by Topsoil Movement within an Eroded Landform

Authors
item Papiernik, Sharon
item Schumacher, Thomas - SD STATE UNIV.
item Lobb, David - UNIV. OF MANITOBA
item Lindstrom, Michael
item Lieser, Michael - USDA-NRCS, RETIRED
item Eynard, Anna - SD STATE UNIV.
item Schumacher, Joseph - SD STATE UNIV.

Submitted to: Soil & Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 28, 2008
Publication Date: January 5, 2009
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/22671
Citation: Papiernik, S.K., Schumacher, T.E., Lobb, D.A., Lindstrom, M.J., Lieser, M.L., Eynard, A., Schumacher, J.A. 2009. Soil properties and productivity as affected by topsoil movement within an eroded landform. Soil & Tillage Research. 102:67-77.

Interpretive Summary: In hilly landforms subject to long-term cultivation, erosion has removed topsoil from upper slope positions and accumulated topsoil in lower slope positions. Given the importance of soil erosion on productivity, an intuitive approach to reduce crop yield losses in eroded fields is to reverse soil erosion by moving soil from areas of soil accumulation back uphill. These experiments were conducted in an eroded hilly landform typical of the prairie pothole region. Soil in the upper slope was depleted in soil nutrients and organic carbon and had enriched inorganic carbon contents through the incorporation of subsoil material into the tilled layer. Soil-landscape rehabilitation was performed by moving 15-20 cm of soil from the lower slope to the upper slope positions. These rehabilitated plots were compared with undisturbed plots. Rehabilitation resulted in an upward shift in soil properties where soil was removed and a downward shift where soil was applied, and original soil was buried. Soil properties were much more uniform from the top to the bottom of the slope in rehabilitated plots compared to undisturbed plots. Productivity was measured in two cropping years. Results indicate that addition of accumulated topsoil from lower slope positions to eroded upper slope positions can result in large yield increases in upper slope positions and more consistency in crop yields across the landscape. Rehabilitation resulted in an increase in grain yield of up to 63-65% in upper slope positions. Extension personnel, growers, crop consultants, regulatory agencies, and other scientists can use this information to better predict crop yield responses to soil properties and landscape position in eroded areas, to develop approaches to increase the productivity of eroded soils, and to recommend methods to remediate or restore eroded landscapes.

Technical Abstract: In hilly landforms subject to long-term cultivation, erosion has denuded upper slope positions of topsoil and accumulated topsoil in lower slope positions. One approach to remediate these eroded landforms is moving soil from areas of topsoil accumulation to areas of topsoil depletion, termed here soil-landscape rehabilitation. These experiments were conducted in an eroded undulating landform typical of the prairie pothole region. The summit, shoulder, upper and lower backslope were depleted in soil nutrients and organic carbon and had enriched inorganic carbon contents through the incorporation of calcareous subsoil material into the tilled layer. Six replicate plots were established that extended from the summit to the toeslope of the test area. Soil-landscape rehabilitation was performed on three plots by moving 15-20 cm of soil from the lower slope (footslope and toeslope) to the upper slope (summit, shoulder, and upper backslope) positions. The three remaining plots were undisturbed. Rehabilitation resulted in an upward shift in soil properties where soil was removed and a downward shift where soil was applied, and original soil was buried. Soil properties were much more uniform from summit to toeslope in rehabilitated plots compared to undisturbed plots. Productivity was measured in two cropping years. In rehabilitated plots, yields were relatively consistent across landscape positions, whereas in undisturbed plots, yields were depressed in eroded landscape positions. Rehabilitation resulted in an increase in grain yield of 63-65% in the upper backslope. Results indicate that addition of accumulated topsoil from lower slope positions to eroded upper slope positions can result in large yield increases in upper slope positions and more consistency in crop yields across the landscape.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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