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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Field Assessment of Soil Properties Affecting Runoff and Erosion During Spring Thaw in the Northern U.S. Corn Belt

item Sharratt, Brenton

Submitted to: Snowmelt Erosion and Related Problems International Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: The flood of the Red River of the North in the spring of 1997 has most recently demonstrated the impact of frozen soil on surface water runoff in the northern Great Plains of North America. I examined the impact of land management practices on surface water runoff and erosion during spring thaw. Runoff and erosion were assessed over four years in west central Minnesota. Simulated rain was applied on four dates during spring thaw to a clay and a loam subject to autumn moldboard plow or chisel plow. Corn residue was removed or retained on plots prior to tillage in the autumn. Runoff and soil loss after a 96-mm rain averaged 6.0 mm m**-2 and 1.5 kg m**-2, respectively, across soil types and years. Regression analysis determined that runoff was abated by drying, roughening, and thawing soils. In addition, runoff, random roughness, soil water content, and residue cover explained nearly 60% of the variability in soil loss occurring from a spring rain. In cold regions where autumn tillage is utilized to expedite soil warming and planting of seeds in the spring, roughening and rapidly thawing the soil or retaining crop residue on the soil surface may be desirable for minimizing surface water runoff and soil erosion during spring thaw.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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