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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Water Quality and Ecology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #145436


item Cullum, Robert
item Wilson, Glenn
item Smith Jr, Sammie

Submitted to: Extension Service Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2003
Publication Date: 7/1/2003
Citation: Cullum, R.F., Wilson, G.V., Smith Jr., S., Johnson, J.R. 2003. USDA-ARS Erosion control and water quality studies at Holly Springs, MS. Extension Service Bulletins. Bulletin 238, 231-236.

Interpretive Summary: Soil erosion and water quality in runoff from crop production on sloping lands with a restrictive soil layer are major issues being addressed by various studies at Holly Springs, Mississippi. Crop and tillage management systems with broiler litter are being evaluated for their affects on water quality of surface runoff and shallow groundwater using field experiments with plots and watersheds. The experiments include: continuous corn with winter cover crop systems; return of conservation reserve grassland to crop production; and reduced-till and no-till ultra-narrow row cotton with and without stiff-grass hedges. Other erosion studies that did not use broiler litter included: long-term soybean production and stiff grass. Crop yields were found to be maintained under some form of conservation tillage system. Conventional till practices would rapidly reduce the shallow depth to the restrictive layer resulting in too low of soybean yield to be economically viable. Broiler litter could be applied as the nitrogen source in corn at the rate of four tons per acre to provide adequate yields and little to no environmental hazard to runoff or shallow groundwater. Reducing row spacing in cotton provided more residues resulting in reduced soil erosion. These results will be useful to extension personnel, action agencies involved in water quality planning, and to farmers who plan to land apply broiler litter to produce various crops.

Technical Abstract: The erosion control effectiveness of no-till(NT) crops and grass buffer strips studies at MAFES, Holly Springs, MS on idle land being returned to row-crop production provided useful information related to the potential return to row-crop production of land previously in the conservation reserve program (CRP). Long-term effects of NT and conventional-till (CT) practices in shallow fragipan (a dense soil layer that restricts water movement and root growth) soils on soybean yields for a 16-year period revealed a decrease in fragipan depth and produced lower yields in both tillage systems with greater yield reduction from the conventional-till practice. The net soil loss for conventional-till as compared to no-till averaged 8 inches. The 2001 and 2002 soybean yield data showed that plots with a fragipan 10 inches or less from the soil surface, specifically those with conventional-till histories, produced too low of yields to be economically-viable. Topographic survey and visual observations revealed dramatic difference in elevation between no-till and conventional-till plots. Other continuing erosion control studies involving the evaluation of soil and water conservation management of broiler litter-amended systems included continuous corn with winter cover crop systems, simulation of the return of conservation reserve grassland to crop production, and reduced-till and no-till ultra-narrow row cotton with and without stiff-grass hedges. Corn yield results from the last three years showed broiler litter could be used as the nitrogen source with negligible detrimental effects to nutrient loading in runoff or shallow groundwater when used at the 4 t/A split application rate.