Submitted to: Soil & Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: To improve crop production in water deficit areas such as the Texas Northern High Plains, the cultural practices used should reduce runoff and capture rainwater. Studies were conducted on Pullman clay loam at Bushland, Texas, to evaluate treatments for improving soil water storage, and grain sorghum yield and water use efficiency. The studies were conducted for sorghum in a wheat-fallow-sorghum-fallow rotation on dryland (without irrigation). Treatments were conventional tillage plus furrow diking (FD), conventional tillage (CT), no-tillage with wheat residues kept on the plots (NT+), and no-tillage with wheat residues removed (NT-). The FD and NT+ treatments were more effective than the CT and NT- treatments for increasing soil water storage. This resulted from reducing or preventing runoff from rainfall and increasing infiltration. As a result, grain yields were greater with FD and NT+ treatments than with CT and NT- treatments. Yields with the FD treatment were about 800 kg/ha greater tha the average for the CT and NT- treatments. For the NT+ treatment, the increase averaged about 650 kg/ha. The greater yields under the same rainfall conditions resulted in higher water use efficiency for grain production with the FD and NT+ treatments.
Technical Abstract: In water deficit areas, like the Texas Northern High Plains, cultural practices are needed to reduce runoff and capture rainwater. Studies were conducted at Bushland, Texas, on Pullman clay loam (fine, mixed, thermic Torrertic Paleustoll) to improve water storage, sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] water use efficiency, and grain yield. Treatments were conventional tillage plus furrow diking (FD), conventional tillage (CT), no-tillage with wheat (Triticum aestivum) residue maintained on the plots (NT+) and no-tillage with wheat residue removed (NT-). The FD and NT+ treatments were more effective than CT and NT- treatments for improving precipitation storage by reducing and even preventing runoff and increasing infiltration. The more efficient use of soil water with the FD and NT+ treatments was reflected in greater sorghum grain yield. Average grain yield with the FD treatment was 4840 kg ha**-1, which was about 800 kg ha**-1 more than with the CT and NT- treatments. Grain yield with the NT+ treatment was 15% greater than with the CT and 17% greater than with the NT- treatment.