Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/24/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Claypan soils encompass an area of about 10-million acres, primarily in Missouri and Illinois, and are characterized by a naturally formed subsoil horizon containing 50 to 60% clay. Water quality and soil quality are inextricably linked. Erosion has caused significant losses of topsoil leading to reduced infiltration of water because of the low permeability of fthe claypan subsoil. Reduced infiltration has resulted in increased surface runoff. Mean annual surface runoff from the 28-sq. mile Goodwater Creek watershed north of Columbia, MO is 10 inches, which represents about 26% of the mean annual precipitation. On many eroded sideslopes within this watershed, the current depth to claypan is 6 to 9 inches compared to 20 inches for a native prairie. One solution to reducing surface runoff on claypan soils is to improve the quality of the subsoil. A portion of the 10 inches of surface runoff would then infiltrate, reducing soil erosion and chemical transport, and at the same time providing more available wate to crops. Eastern Gamagrass, a native prairie grass, shows much promise in biologically improving the quality of claypan soils. In addition, Eastern Gamagrass can be used as a stiff-stemmed grass hedge in numerous soil conservation, non-point, and point pollution control applications within a watershed. Grass hedges act as leaky dams to reduce runoff velocity, deposit sediment and adsorbed chemicals, and reduce dissolved chemical concentrations before runoff enters the streams and rivers draining the watershed. As a result, downstream water quality can be improved to reduce water treatment costs and improve aquatic habitats.