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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Value of Crop Residues and Decomposition Rates in the Southern Great Plains

Author
item Unger, Paul

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 22, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: The potential for soil erosion by wind and water exists throughout the southern Great Plains. In fact, some wind erosion occurs most years in parts of the region where the soil surface is dry, relatively smooth, and bare, as often is the case where clean tillage is used. Water erosion also is possible under such conditions. Soil erosion is most effectively controlled (or avoided) where the land is covered with growing plants or where adequate amounts of crop residues are retained on the soil surface after a crop is harvested, as through the use of conservation tillage, especially no-tillage. Use of no-tillage also provides water conservation benefits, which in many cases, has resulted in better growth and greater yields of the next crop. As a result, more residues are produced, which improves the soil and water conservation benefits. Under dryland conditions, however, especially in the drier western part of the region, crops often produce limited amounts of residues. As a result, the potential for soil and water conservation is lower than in more humid regions. To help retain surface residues under dryland conditions, disking and especially moldboard plowing should be avoided. Under drought conditions, any tillage that reduces the amount or increases the decomposition of surface residues should be avoided. This is possible with good management, and protection against erosion should be possible in most cases, unless no crop is produced. Emergency tillage that ridges or roughens the soil surface may be needed to control wind erosion when residue amounts are low or when crop failures occur.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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