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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #395343

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Grass and Forage Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Agroforestry, grass, biofuel crop, and row-crop management effects on soil water dynamics for claypan landscapes

item ALAGELE, S - University Of Missouri
item ANDERSON, S - University Of Baghdad
item UDAWATTA, R - University Of Missouri

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2019
Publication Date: 1/27/2020
Citation: Alagele, S.M., Anderson, S.H., Udawatta, R.P. 2020. Agroforestry, grass, biofuel crop, and row-crop management effects on soil water dynamics for claypan landscapes. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 84:203-219.

Interpretive Summary: Excess water and limited water availability affect crop production and environmental quality of both water and soil. This long-term paired watershed study at the MU’s Greenley Research Center evaluated the role of agroforestry in minimizing these negative effects. The study showed that integration of agroforestry on corn-soybean watersheds reduced soil water contents due to water use by trees and grasses. Also, buffer areas stored excess water during rain in the soil thus reducing runoff losses of water, soil, and nutrients from crop fields and polluting stream water.

Technical Abstract: Soil water use and water storage vary by vegetative management practices, and these practices affect land productivity and hydrologic processes. This study investigated the effects of agroforestry buffers (AB), grass buffers (GB), and biofuel crops (BC), relative to row crops (RC) on soil water use for a claypan soil in northern Missouri, USA. The experiment located at the Greenley Memorial Research Center included RC, AB, GB, and BC established in 1991, 1997, 1997, and 2012, respectively. Soil water reflectometer sensors installed at 5-, 10-, 20-, and 40-cm depths monitored soil water from April to November in 2017 and 2018. Results showed significant differences in weekly volumetric water content (VWC) among treatments for all four soil depths in 2017 and 2018. Treatments of AB, GB, and BC had lower VWC (16, 37, and 18% on 9 June), (31, 35, and 20% on 18 August), and (43, 49, and 35% on 29 September) in 2017 and (46, 70, and 19% on 24 August) and (31, 34, and 17% on 5 October) in 2018, respectively, in the pre-recharge periods for the 5-cm depth compared with the RC. In the post-recharge period, equal or occasionally slightly higher soil water occurred in the buffer and biofuel treatments compared to the RC. During recharge, larger increases in soil water due to better infiltration were observed in the perennial vegetative practices relative to RC. The results showed that these practices could significantly influence soil water use and storage compared to RC management, especially for eroded claypan landscapes.