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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPING TOOLS TO ENHANCE WATER QUALITY FROM AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES IN SOUTH FLORIDA

Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research

Title: Effect of no-till farming on soil water intake

Authors
item Savabi, M
item Golobi, M - UNIVERSITY OF GUAM
item Abou-Arab, A - UNIV OF GYRO, EGYPT
item Kladivko, E - PURDUE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Hydrology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2008
Publication Date: July 2, 2008
Citation: Savabi, M.R., Golobi, M.H., Abou-Arab, A.A., Kladivko, E.J. 2008. Effect of no-till farming on soil water intake. Journal of Environmental Hydrology. 16(21):1-10.

Interpretive Summary: Knowledge of water infiltration under different farming systems is important, because water infiltration greatly influences root zone soil water content, runoff, and erosion. Reduced soil erosion from tillage systems which leave crop residue on the soil surface has been demonstrated by several researchers. However, literature on the effect of no-till systems on soil water intake rate and runoff show inconclusive results. The relative importance of surface residue and macroporosity (number of earthworms and middens) in both tillage systems was evaluated through the use of three different infiltration measurement techniques, and by the removal or addition of surface residue. The results of the ponded infiltration tests indicate that on the silt loam and silty clay loam soils, no-till farms had higher infiltration rates than those of conventional farms when earthworm activity and/or residue amount were higher in the no-till farms.

Technical Abstract: Rainfall simulation and ponded infiltrometer methods were used to investigate the infiltration characteristics of no-till vs. conventional tillage farms. Seven pairs of no-till and conventional till farms under a corn-soybean rotation were selected on soils ranging from sandy loam to silty clay loams. The relative importance of surface residue and macroporosity (number of earthworms and middens) in both tillage systems was evaluated through the use of three different infiltration measurement techniques, and by the removal or addition of surface residue. The results of the ponded infiltration tests indicate that on the silt loam and silty clay loam soils, no-till farms had higher infiltration rates than those of conventional farms when earthworm activity and/or residue amount were higher in the no-till farms. On sandy loam soil, when earthworm activities were similar for both no-till and conventional farms, conventional farms had higher infiltration rates than the no-till farms. Under simulated rainfall, placing residue cover on the conventional plots generally increased final infiltration rates for silt loam and silty clay loam soils. Furthermore, in the absence of plant residues, the no-till farms had equal and/or significantly higher infiltration rates than the corresponding conventional farms on the sites with silt loam and silty clay loam soils. As was the case with ponding infiltration, the terminal infiltration rate for the no-till farm was less with rainfall simulator than for the conventional farm, at the site with sandy loam soil.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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