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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATION OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND FORECASTS INTO RISK-BASED MANAGEMENT TOOLS FOR AGRICULTURE PRODUCTION AND RESOURCE CONSERVATION

Location: Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit

Title: Soil water dynamics and deep soil recharge in a record wet year in the southern Loess Plateau of China

Authors
item Wenzhao, Liu - NW SCI-TECH UNIV. OF AG.
item Zhang, Xunchang
item Dang, Tinghui - NW SCI-TECH UNIV. OF AG.
item Ouyang, Zhu - CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCI.
item Li, Zhi - NW SCI-TECH UNIV. OF AG.
item Wang, Rui - NW SCI-TECH UNIV. OF AG.
item Gao, Changqing - NW SCI-TECH UNIV. OF AG.

Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2009
Publication Date: January 20, 2010
Citation: Wenzhao, L., Zhang, X-C., Dang, T., Ouyang, Z., Li, Z., Wang, R., Gao, C. 2010. Soil water dynamics and deep soil recharge in a record wet year in the southern Loess Plateau of China. Agricultural Water Management. 97(9):1133-1138.

Interpretive Summary: Soil water reserve is a key factor affecting crop and forage production in rainfed agriculture (also called dryland farming). Knowledge of soil water use under various cropping systems helps select cropping systems for particular years that can maximize plant use of rainwater. It has been reported that soil water reserve in high yield plots had been reduced by 270 mm after 13 years of continuous wheat cropping, and a dry soil zone between 2- and 3-m depth had been formed over multiple years in many cropping systems due to high plant water uptake. The objective of this study was to characterize the soil water reserve under various cropping systems and soil water recharge in a record wet year after years of intensive cropping in the Changewu tableland region of southern Loess Plateau of China. A comprehensive experiment site of the Chinese Ecological Research Network and a long-term rotation experiment site in the region were selected for the study. Soil moisture was measured to a depth of 6 m during 2003. This study showed that the dry soil zone may be perennial but not permanent. Analysis of long-term climate records indicated that soil moisture within the 3-m depth (rooting depth for most crops) in all cropping systems in the region would be fully recharged in wet years. This information may be useful to conservationists to select or develop sustainable cropping systems for the region.

Technical Abstract: Analysis of soil water dynamics and recharge is required to understand the regional soil water cycle processes and to guide agricultural production and ecological restoration. It has been reported that soil water reserve in high yield plots had been reduced by 270 mm after 13 years of continuous wheat cropping, and a relatively dry soil zone between 2- and 3-m depth had been formed over years in many intensive cropping systems due to high plant water uptake. The formation of the dry soil zone has raised the concerns about the sustainability of existing cropping systems in the region. The objective of this study was to quantify soil water profile dynamics and recharge in a record wet year in various cropping systems in a semiarid-subhumid region of southern Loess Plateau of China. A comprehensive experiment site of the Chinese Ecological Research Network and a long-term rotation experiment site, both located in the Changwu tableland region, were selected for the study. A neutron probe was used to measure soil moisture to a depth of 6 m during 2003. This study has alleviated the concerns in that the dry soil zone may be perennial but not permanent. Analysis of the long-term climate records indicated that soil moisture within the 3-m depth (rooting depth for most crops) in all cropping systems in the region would be fully recharged in one out of 10 years.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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