Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2002
Publication Date: 3/1/2004
Citation: Shukla, M.K., Lal, R., Owens, L.B., Unkefer, P. 2004. Land use and management impacts on structure and infiltration characteristics of soils in the north appalachian region of ohio. Soil Science. 168(3):167-177 Interpretive Summary: Soils have a variety of properties and characteristics. Several factors determine the nature of these properties. Land use and management practices are some of the factors that impact soil structure and infiltration characteristics. Soils with "good" structure allow water to infiltrate or soak into soil more readily than soils that have poor or disturbed structure. Soils with greater infiltration have reduced surface runoff and erosion and problems associated with runoff and erosion. At the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed research station near Coshocton, OH, five management practices were evaluated for their impacts on soil structure and infiltration. The treatments were: no-till without manure (NTWM), no-till with manure (NTM), no-till corn-soybean rotation (NTCSR), conventional tillage (CT), and meadow (M). NTM had the greatest amount of soil aggregation, i.e. structure, and the least soil compaction. Thus the NTM had the greatest infiltration rate. CT was at the other end of the range of comparisons, least aggregation and most compacted soil. CT had the lowest infiltration rate. These comparisons showed that tillage decreased aggregation and increased soil compaction, while NT with manuring can improve soil structure, aggregation, and rates of water infiltrating into soil. This information is important to producers and agricultural advisors, including extension personnel, Natural Resources Conservation Service employees, and private consultants.
Technical Abstract: Effects of land use and management treatments on soil mechanical and hydrological properties were assessed by the analysis of bulk and core soil samples and water infiltration measurements in the field using double ring infiltrometers in five plots located at the experimental farm of the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed (NAEW) near Coshocton, Ohio, USA. The five treatments were no-till without manure (NTWM), no-till with manure (NTM), no-till corn (Zee mays)-soybean (Glycine max) rotation (NTCSR), conventional tillage (CT), and meadow (M). Treatments significantly influenced water infiltration characteristics, soil bulk density, aggregation and mean weight diameter (MWD). The maximum cumulative infiltration after 3 h (I) of 109.3 +/- 29.0 cm (average of 9 measurements at 3 landscape positions) was measured for the NTM treatment and the lowest of 27.7 +/- 21.0 cm (average of 3 measurements at shoulder slope or S) for the CT treatment. The infiltration rate at 5 min (i5), steady state infiltration rate after 3 h (ic) and field capacity water content 24 h after the infiltration (FC) were higher in NTM (1.5 cm min**1, 0.4 cm min**1 and 0.35 gg**1, respectively) than other treatments. The least values of i5, ic and FC (o.4 cm min**1, 0.18 cm min**1, and 0.22 gg**1, respectively) were observed for the CT treatment. Saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) measured on soil cores was the highest for the NTM (0.29 cm min**1) for 0 to 10 cm and NTCSR (0.24 cm min**1) for 10 to 20 cm depth. The soil bulk density (1.52 g cm**3 for 0 to 10 cm and 1.62 g cm**3 for 10 to 20 cm depth) was the lowest and water stable aggregates (WSA) were the highest (WSA of 89% and 63%) for both depths for the NTM treatment. The soil bulk density was much higher for the CT (1.75 g cm**3 for 0 to 10 cm depth) and NTWM (1.77 g cm**3 for 10 to 20 cm depth) than NTM, NTCSR and M treatments for either depth. The landscape positions did not have a significant influence on soil physical and water transmission properties as well as on total biomass. The manuring treatment improved soil aggregation and water transmission properties (NTM>NTWM>NTCSR).