Location: Southeast Watershed Research
Title: Impacts of conservation tillage on streamflow and baseflow within the Little River Experimental Watershed. Authors
Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 2008
Publication Date: July 11, 2009
Citation: Bosch, D.D., Sullivan, D.G., Cho, J. 2009. Impacts of conservation tillage on streamflow and baseflow within the Little River Experimental Watershed.. Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings, July 11-15, 2009, Dearborn, Michigan. Technical Abstract: Considerable acreage across the Southeastern Coastal Plain has been converted from conventional tillage systems into some form of conservation tillage. Strip tillage, a practice of tilling a narrow strip for planting, has been the dominant form of conservation tillage implemented across the region. Field observations indicate that surface runoff can be reduced by as much as 61% by converting from a conventional tillage to a conservation tillage system within the Coastal Plain. However, as a result of reduced porosity within the root zone of soils under strip tillage the increased infiltration can lead to a 90% increase in subsurface water losses. Overall, the water balance appears to remain largely unaffected by conversion to conservation tillage systems. In watersheds where shallow subsurface flow and groundwater flow contribute directly to streamflow, it is anticipated that this shift in water dynamics could significantly impact hydrograph characteristics. Farming practices across the Little River Experimental Watershed (LREW) were examined to determine trends in implementation of strip tillage. Hydrologic data from the LREW were examined to evaluate hydrograph characteristics that may be related to trends in conservation tillage adoption over the past 15 to 20 years. Predictions based upon these observations were made to develop forecasts of the long term impact of conservation tillage on streamflow and water quality across this region.