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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Central Great Plains Resources Management Research

Title: Standing crop residues and wind erosion

item Vigil, Merle

Submitted to: Extension Circular
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/27/2013
Publication Date: 10/1/2013
Citation: Vigil, M.F. 2013. Standing crop residues and wind erosion. Southeast Area Extension Circular Farm and Ranch Newsletter. 1(3) 1-11.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion and blinding dust storms in the Central Great Plains region still occasionally erupt. Eliminating all tillage remains the best remedy. However, farmers in the region somehow fail to remember the lessons learned in the “dirty 30’s”. They forget how devastating tillage is in disrupting the soil matrix. Here we review the effect tillage has on the stability of a soil matrix, and how the breakdown of that stability makes top soil susceptible to wind erosion. We also review the use of standing crop residues and crop residue cover for protecting top soils from wind erosion. In effect standing crop residues make outstanding mini-windbreaks that slow wind velocities near the soil surface to essentially zero. Standing crop residues also act as snow fences and shade the soil. This reduces evaporation and ultimately increases soil water storage. Standing crop residues provide a dual benefit of storing more soil water in effect increasing precipitation use efficiency for crop growth while at the same time protecting top soil from both wind and water erosion. The take home message is using no-till practices and seeding directly into last year’s crop stubble is a better system economically and environmentally.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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