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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Irrigation-Induced Soil Erosion Reduces Yields and Muddies River

Authors
item TROUT, THOMAS
item Carter, David
item Sojka, Robert

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Irrigation Science
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 1994
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Soil erodes when water running across the surface breaks down aggregates and carries away small soil particles. Although erosion in hilly, high- rainfall areas has long been recognized, it is generally assumed that controlled irrigation water would not cause an erosion problem. But, controlled flows running down closely-spaced irrigation furrows for many hours each summer can result in high soil loss.

Technical Abstract: Polyacrylamide (PAM) is a material that can stabilize soil and flocculate sediment. It is presently used in the food-processing and wastewater-treatment industries as a flocculent. When some types of PAM are mixed with the irrigation water at very low concentrations (about 1 lb/acre per irrigation), furrow erosion can be nearly eliminated. We are carrying out studies to determine the best PAM formulations and techniques to most economically apply the material. Manufacturers are pursuing registration for PAM use as a soil additive. Polyacrylamide is expected to be a simple and inexpensive method to reduce furrow erosion.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014