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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #93089


item Lindstrom, Michael

Submitted to: Tillage Seminar Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/10/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Movement of soil by tillage implements results in a displacement of soil downslope and can be considered a form of soil erosion. Soil displacement through the tillage process has been shown to exceed levels allowable for sustained soil productivity. A computer simulation of soil movement by tillage, moldboard plowing and two disking operations, on rolling landscape common to western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota was conducted to show how soil profile properties change with tillage erosion. The time period of simulation was 40-years. On convex slope positions, soil was removed by the action of tillage at unacceptably high rates producing either a moderately or severely eroded surface condition depending on the degree of curvature. As the degree of curvature increased the rate of soil removal increased. On abruptly changing convex slope positions, most of the original topsoil has been removed and replaced by less desirable subsoil material for crop production. Soil was deposited in concave slope positions. The net effect of soil movement was an increase in soil variability and a reduction in soil quality in convex slope positions. These data identify a source of soil degradation and can be used by conservation planners to develop management guidelines to maintain the soil quality of crop production fields.

Technical Abstract: Soil translocation by tillage produces annual soil erosion rates from specific landscape positions that can greatly exceed soil loss tolerance levels. Objectives of this study were to describe, using computer simulation of previously derived data, changes in soil profile characteristics from an annual tillage sequence of moldboard plowing and two disking operations at specific landscape positions over a 40-year period. Computer simulations for the annual tillage sequences were based on empirically determined soil translocation rates as a function of slope gradients in the direction of tillage for individual hillslope segments with dimensions of 1 m by 1 m over a 800-m transect. This transect was constructed to include topographic features common to western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. Net soil loss or deposition for any slope segment was described from the different in soil translocation as determined by differences in slope gradients between adjacent slope segments. At abrupt convex slop positions soil translocation reduced soil elevation by 16 cm, representing a soil erosion rate of 55 t ha**-1 yr**-1 resulting in a severely eroded soil surface. Deposition occurred at concave slope positions. Approximately 14% of the constructed transect was experiencing soil erosion or deposition rates that exceeded 10 t ha**-1 yr**-1. The overall effect of soil translocation by tillage was an increase in soil variability and degradation of surface soil quality in convex slope positions.