Soil & Water Management

Agricultural Production Crop Production

Soil & Water Management

Various soil and water management practices exist which will minimize soil loss and evaporative water loss, while providing a good environment for crop establishment.

Soil Management for Water Conservation

Improved water infiltration, less runoff and reduced evaporative losses in no-till systems can save from 5 to 12 inches per year, making more water available for crop production. The tilled grain sorghum on the right yielded only 61 bu/A in a dry year while the no-till on the left yielded about 121 bu/A.

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Residue Management

The tilled plots in the foreground of this photo had considerable soil loss and runoff during intense spring rains. The tilled soil surface was susceptible to raindrop impact, causing erosion and surface crusting. The crop residue on the no-till plots in the background absorbed raindrop impact and allowed more water to infiltrate into the soil. With the improved soil structure, the crop is healthier in the no-till.

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Soil Biological Life

While tillage has been used to prepare a seedbed, it also destroys the existing root structures in the soil and some of the soil's biological life. Without this biological life, soil structure suffers and many of the nutrients are not as available for crop uptake.

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Soil Structure

Soil is much more than the individual particles of sand, silt, and clay. Ideally, the soil should be one-half solid materials (sand, silt, clay, nutrients, minerals, organic materials, and biological life) and one-half pore space (half of that containing water and the other half being air space). Biological life and organic matter provide the "glues" to create soil aggregates, forming soil structure.

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Tillage Concepts

Tillage of the soil has been used to prepare a seedbed, kill weeds, incorporate nutrients, and manage crop residues. The goal of the tillage system has been to provide a proper environment for seed germination and root growth for crop production.

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