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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL RESOURCE EVALUATION OF MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS TO ENHANCE AGROECOSYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Soil and Water Conservation Advances in the Northern Great Plains

Authors
item Tanaka, Donald
item Mc Conkey, Brian - AGRIC & AGRIC-FOOD CANADA
item Merrill, Stephen - RETIRED USDA-ARS,MANDAN

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 4, 2007
Publication Date: November 4, 2007
Citation: Tanaka, D.L., Mc Conkey, B., Merrill, S.D. 2007. Soil and Water Conservation Advances in the Northern Great Plains. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. New Orleans, LA. November 4-8, 2007.

Technical Abstract: Advances in soil and water conservation techniques and practices in the northern Great Plains over the last century have altered present day crop production and agriculture. Homesteaders began settling the land in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and brought with them implements they had used in higher precipitation environments. During these early years, the use of crop-fallow systems helped to stabilize crop yields, control weeds, store soil water, and make nutrients available for succeeding crops. Dust mulching was a recommended soil water conservation technique for fallow. This technique used intensive inversion type tillage implements to reduce surface soil aggregates to dust which created a vapor barrier that reduced soil water evaporation. Dust mulching left the soil prone to severe soil erosion and soil water storage during fallow seldom exceeded 20%. Stubble-mulch tillage, reduced tillage, and no-tillage fallow enhanced residues on the soil surface to control soil erosion and improve soil water storage. Soil water storage during fallow using reduced tillage and no-tillage approached 40%, but 60% was still being lost to evaporation. Annual cropping using opportunity cropping and dynamic cropping systems techniques reduced soil water loss to evaporation. Future research to improve water use and conservation may need to focus on non-crop niches in annual cropping systems to improve agricultural sustainability.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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