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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 Title: Soil water signature of the 2005-2006 drought under tallgrass prairie at Fort Reno, Oklahoma

Authors
item Garbrecht, Jurgen
item Schneider, Jeanne
item Brown, Glenn - OSU

Submitted to: Oklahoma Academy of Science Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2007
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
Citation: Garbrecht, J.D., Schneider, J.M., Brown, G.O. 2007. Soil water signature of the 2005-2006 drought under tallgrass prairie at Fort Reno, Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science. 87:37-44.

Interpretive Summary: In the Southern Great Plains, variable and unpredictable seasonal precipitation is a constant risk that impedes efforts to achieving a stable and sustainable agricultural production. This study examined changes in the seasonal pattern of soil water content (SWC) under a tall grass prairie in central Oklahoma as a result of the 2005-2006 meteorological drought. Nine years of continuous soil water observations were available at Fort Reno in Central Oklahoma, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. The year-long drought had limited impact on the seasonal pattern of SWC in the top 50 cm of the soil profile, as this portion of the profile was recharge by sporadic precipitation events during the drought. However, no moisture reached the soil profile below 50 cm after June 2005, as all precipitation was intercepted by roots in the top soil layer and rapidly consumed by plant transpiration. Without adequate deep soil moisture reserves, the drought led to limited forage production and poor forage quality in many regions of Oklahoma, which in turn negatively impacted livestock enterprises. The abundant precipitation in March 2007 recharged the soil profile and broke the drought. Thus, there should be no carry-over moisture deficits from the 2005-2006 drought into the spring and early summer of 2007.

Technical Abstract: This study examined changes in the seasonal pattern of soil water content under a tall grass prairie in central Oklahoma as a result of the 2005-2006 drought. The seasonal pattern of soil water content in the top 50 cm of the soil profile was minimally impacted by the drought, as this portion of the profile was recharged by sporadic precipitation events. However, no moisture reached the soil profile below 50 cm after June 2005, as all precipitation was intercepted and held by the top soil layer and rapidly consumed by evapotranspiration. The dry conditions in the lower soil profile resulted in low tallgrass prairie productivity which in turn limited livestock grazing opportunities. Heavy precipitation in March 2007 replenished the soil profile and there should be no carry-over moisture deficits from the 2005-2006 drought into the spring and early summer of 2007.

Last Modified: 11/21/2014
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