Management system effects on water infiltration and soil physical properties
Halfmann, Deanna M.
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Soil and water conservation are important issues on the Southern High Plains because of limited rainfall and windy conditions. Alternative management styles of ranching and farming may help conserve our natural resources by allowing for increased water infiltration and improving soil physical properties. The management system effects on water infiltration and soil physical properties were analyzed at two locations. A clay loam soil consisting of an integrated livestock-cropping system was analyzed near New Deal, TX. No-till dryland and irrigated cotton systems, a conventional tillage dryland cotton system, CRP, and native range were analyzed on a loamy fine sand near Wellman, TX. The testing methods included soil bulk density, soil moisture, soil penetration resistance, double-ring infiltrometers to measure water infiltration rates under saturated conditions at both sites, and tension infiltrometers to measure unsaturated hydraulic conductivity at the Wellman site. The results at New Deal indicated that the penetration resistance and bulk density are associated by depth, not management system. The penetration resistance increased with each depth, reached its maximum value at the 15 cm depth, then lowered slightly at 20 cm and remained fairly constant throughout the bottom 20 to 30 cm depth. The bulk density increased though the top 15 cm depths, and then lowered through the 15 to 30 cm depth. The water infiltration rates seemed to be independent of the penetration resistance and bulk density because the management systems with the highest resistance and bulk densities did not have the lowest infiltration rates. At the Wellman site, a trend seemed to develop among cropping systems. The native range had the lowest penetration resistance and bulk density, and the highest infiltration rate under saturated conditions. The conventional tillage dryland cotton system had the highest penetration resistance and bulk density, and the lowest infiltration rate under saturated conditions. The no-till and CRP systems seemed to fall in the middle tier for penetration resistance, bulk density, and infiltration rates. The no-till irrigated cotton and CRP systems were more comparable to the native range, while the no-till dryland cotton system was more comparable to the conventional tillage dryland cotton system.