Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/19/2000
Publication Date: 9/19/2000
Technical Abstract: Organic contents of soil are vitally important in providing energy, substrates, and the biological diversity necessary to sustain plant growth, regulate and partition water flow in the environment, and serve as an environmental buffer. It is hypothesized that the degree of organic matter stratification can be used as an indicator of soil quality, since surface organic matter is essential to erosion control, water infiltration, and conservation of nutrients. Two Cecil sandy loams with stratification of organic matter (due to long-term conservation tillage) and without stratification (due to long-term cultivation) were sieved or left intact and exposed to weekly rainfall events during 14 weeks. Sieving reduced infiltration rate in both soils during the first few rainfall simulations. Thereafter, infiltration rate was similar between disturbed and undisturbed soils. Stratification of organic matter sustained a higher infiltration rate throughout the experimental period, whereas disturbance of this high organic matter soil reduced infiltration to levels observed in minimally stratified soil. Nurturing of the soil surface with organic matter should be an important aspect of the definition of soil quality.