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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: FARMING PRACTICES FOR THE NORTHERN CORN BELT TO PROTECT SOIL RESOURCES, SUPPORT BIOFUEL PRODUCTION AND REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING POTENTIAL Title: Soil Moisture Dynamics Under Corn, Soybean, and Perennial Kura Clover

Authors
item Ochsner, Tyson -
item Venterea, Rodney

Submitted to: American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 5, 2009
Publication Date: December 14, 2009
Citation: Ochsner, T.E., Venterea, R.T. 2009. Soil Moisture Dynamics Under Corn, Soybean, and Perennial Kura Clover [abstract]. American Geophysical Union Annual Fall Meeting. Paper No. 7957.

Technical Abstract: Rising global food and energy consumption call for increased agricultural production, whereas rising concerns for environmental quality call for farming systems with more favorable environmental impacts. Improved understanding and management of plant-soil water interactions are central to meeting these twin challenges. The objective of this research was to compare the temporal dynamics of soil moisture under contrasting cropping systems suited for the Midwestern region of the United States. Precipitation, infiltration, drainage, evapotranspiration, soil water storage, and freeze/thaw processes were measured hourly for three years in field plots of continuous corn (Zea mays L.), corn/soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation, and perennial kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum M. Bieb.) in southeastern Minnesota. The evapotranspiration from the perennial clover most closely followed the temporal dynamics of precipitation, resulting in deep drainage which was reduced up to 50% relative to the annual crops. Soil moisture utilization also continued later into the fall under the clover than under the annual crops. In the annual cropping systems, crop sequence influenced the soil moisture dynamics. Soybean following corn and continuous corn exhibited evapotranspiration which was 80 mm less than and deep drainage which was 80 mm greater than that of corn following soybean. These differences occurred primarily during the spring and were associated with differences in early season plant growth between the systems. In the summer, soil moisture depletion was up to 30 mm greater under corn than soybean. Crop residue also played an important role in the soil moisture dynamics. Higher amounts of residue were associated with reduced soil freezing. This presentation will highlight key aspects of the soil moisture dynamics for these contrasting cropping systems across temporal scales ranging from hours to years. The links between soil moisture dynamics, crop yields, and nutrient leaching will also be examined.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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