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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR IMPROVED NATURAL RESOURCE QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY

Location: North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory

Title: Identifying conservation hotspots using tillage erosion modeling

Authors
item Schumacher, Joseph -
item Papiernik, Sharon
item Schumacher, Thomas -
item Reitsma, Kurtis -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Soil is directly moved by tillage. In hilly areas, soil tillage is a main contributor to soil erosion because more soil is moved downhill than uphill. Eroded soils have properties that are less favorable for crop growth, so soil erosion is a major limitation to crop production. In this chapter, we give step-by-step instructions for creating tillage erosion maps using geographic information system (GIS) software. With these maps, users can quickly identify problem areas of a field that are prone to erosion. This tool will allow producers, crop consultants, and others to create maps to target sensitive areas that are expected to show the largest benefit from practices that promote soil conservation.

Technical Abstract: Tillage operations redistribute soil within agricultural landscapes due to deviations in the quantity of soil moved during tillage. Tillage erosion is the net loss or accumulation of soil at any spot within an agricultural landscape due to soil being directly moved by tillage; it is a dominant erosive force in hilly landscapes. Tillage erosion can result in loss of topsoil on knolls or hill tops, reducing soil productivity potential in these regions of the field. The method detailed in this chapter provides a means to develop tillage erosion maps, delineating tillage erosion zones derived from estimates of tillage erosion. This method may be used at the individual field, county, or Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) scale. Examples in this chapter demonstrate the development of tillage erosion zones based on results of a Tillage Erosion Predictive model aid (TEP-A). The tillage erosion model is based on a field’s topographic general curvature with a moldboard plow used as a tillage implement standard. Spatial delineation of tillage erosion zones can be used to identify areas where conservation practices are most likely to reduce tillage erosion and improve sustainability. The Exercise Example section of this chapter contains a step-by-step application guide using ArcGIS 10.0, and an example dataset is provided on the DVD accompanying this book.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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