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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Management: the Key to Water Use Efficiency in the Midwest

item Hatfield, Jerry
item Prueger, John

Submitted to: National No Till Meetings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 23, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Soil water availability in the Midwest is dependent upon the precipitation, the soil water holding capacity, and the rate of removal of soil water by the crop and agricultural practices. Efficiency of the use of water relative to crop production is best described as the amount of crop biomass produced per amount of water evaporated from the crop. Water use efficiency has been used to compare the effectiveness of different cropping practices in irrigated agriculture but has not been extensively used in the Midwest. Given the uncertainty of the weather over the next 10-20 years coupled with an increase in precipitation variability, we need to look at the relationship between soil management practices and water use by crops. Increases in weather variations can be offset through soil management practices that increase soil water availability to the crop. Conservation tillage may increase soil water use by the crop by only 1-2 inches, however, that is often more than enough to allow the crop to grow and develop while other fields are stressed. The more we understand about these effects, the better we can provide management practices that increase the efficiency of crop production.

Last Modified: 4/19/2015
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