Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/29/2005
Publication Date: 11/25/2005
Citation: Bosch, D.D., Potter, T.L., Truman, C.C., Bednarz, C., Strickland, T.C. 2005. Surface runoff and lateral subsurface flow as a response to conservation tillage and soil-water conditions. Transactions of the ASABE. 48(6):2137-2144. Interpretive Summary: Accurate assessments of water savings that can be attributed to reduced tillage in the Coastal Plain Region of the United States are necessary to quantify the effects of regional conservation practices. Surface runoff and lateral subsurface flow were measured on six 0.2 ha plots in South Georgia in order to quantify these effects. Comparisons were made between conventional and strip till management (tilling only a narrow strip in the land for planting the seed). Strip till resulted in an 80% reduction in surface water losses and a 67% increase in subsurface water losses. Despite the increased subsurface losses, the strip till system resulted in a net annual gain of 60 mm of water available for plant growth.
Technical Abstract: Conservation tillage has significant potential as a management tool for cotton production on sandy drought-prone soils. Plant residue remaining at the soil surface from prior crops serves as a vapor barrier against water loss, reduces raindrop impact energy, slows surface runoff, and often increases infiltration. By increasing infiltration, the potential for greater plant available water can be enhanced and irrigation requirements reduced. Surface runoff and lateral subsurface flow were measured on six 0.2 ha plots in South Georgia in order to quantify the water related effects of conservation tillage. Significant differences in surface and subsurface water losses were observed between the conventionally and strip tilled plots. Surface runoff from the conventionally tilled plots exceed that from the strip tilled plots while subsurface losses were reversed. Surface runoff losses from the conventionally tilled plots exceeded those from the strip tilled plots by 80%. Subsurface losses from the strip tilled plots exceeded those from the conventionally tilled plots by 67%. Overall, a net annual gain of 60 mm of water was observed for the strip till plots.