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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Infiltration and Soil Properties As Affected by Annual Cropping in the Northern Great Plains

Authors
item Pikul Joseph L Jr,
item Aase J Kristian,

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 1994
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Long-term field trials provide opportunities to test hypotheses on the effect of management on soil properties. National programs, such as SARE address goals to enhance the quality of life for farmers and society. Goals are to produce food economically and with environmental concern. These goals are intimately tied to the productivity of our soil resources. Fallow-wheat rotations have been implicated as the cause of serious declines in soil organic matter. Organic matter is linked to fertility and desirable soil tilth. Annual cropping systems using minimum or no tillage are desirable because surface cover is maintained for erosion control and more crop residues are returned to the soil. This study was conducted to determine the effects of tillage and crop sequence on soil properties and water infiltration after 9 years of cropping in the northern Great Plains. There was greater soil organic carbon accumulation on annual crop treatments compared to fallow-wheat rotation treatment. Soil on annual no-tillage crop treatment was the least compact. Results are important because they show a direct link between long-term soil management and soil physical properties related to productivity

Technical Abstract: Fallow-wheat cropping sequence may degrade soil organic matter and soil properties. Objectives were to determine effects of tillage and crop sequence on soil properties and water infiltration after 9 years of cropping on glacial till, sandy loam. Statistical design was randomized complete block with 4 replications. Annual cropping tillage treatments were fall sweep and spring disk (AWFST), and no tillage (AWNT). Control was fallow-wheat with conventional tillage (FWCT). Soil samples were taken at 0.03 m increments to 0.3 m depth and used to determine organic carbon (OC), pH, bulk density (BD), and particle size. Point resistance was measured in 0.02 m increments. Water infiltration was measured using a rainfall simulator. Average OC in top 0.11 m of soil was 12.9 g/kg under annual crops and 11.4 g/kg on FWCT. Maximum soil BD was 1.61 Mg/cubic m on FWCT and 1.56 Mg/cubic m on AWNT. Maximum point resistance was 2.2 MPa on FWCT and 1.7 MPa on AWNT. Cumulative 3-h infiltration was 52 mm for FWCT and 69 mm/h for AWNT. Final infiltration rate was 5 mm/h for FWCT and 6 mm/h for AWNT. Soil on AWNT was less compact and had greater OC compared to FWCT; however, both treatments were prone to surface crusting

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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