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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Mechanical Straw Mulching of Irrigation Furrows: Soil Erosion and Nutrient Losses


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 89 No. 6, p. 887-893
    Received: Jan 6, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): mesosu@primenet.com
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  1. Clinton C. Shock ,
  2. Joe H. Hobson,
  3. Majid Seddigh,
  4. Byron M. Shock,
  5. Timothy D Stieber and
  6. Lamont D. Saunders
  1. M alheur Exp. Stn., Oregon State Univ., 595 Onion Ave., Ontario, OR 97914
    P .O. Box 2150, Keizer, OR 97307
    1  Jefferson Pkwy, #298, Lake Oswego, OR 97307
    D ep. of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, 677 Beacon St., Rm. 201, Boston MA 02215
    2 054 Shelly Dr., Payette, ID 83661



There is widespread concern about loss of sediments, NO-3, and phosphate into surface water from irrigated farmlands. We studied the effects of 900 kg ha−1 wheat (Triticum spp.) straw, mechanically applied to irrigation furrows, on sediments and on N and P losses in the runoff. The field was on a Nyssa silt loam soil (coarse-silty, mixed, mesic Xerollic Haplodurid) with 3% slope planted to onion (Allium cepa L.), and received 0, 50, or 200 kg P ha−1 incorporated to 0.1 m deep. Furrows were side-dressed with 200 kg ha−1 N. Averaged across 17 irrigations, straw reduced runoff volume by 43%. Cumulative sediment lost after 17 irrigations was 17 Mg ha−1 for mulched and 333 Mg ha−1 for unmulched furrows. Straw also reduced NO-3 and NH+4 losses in runoff solution and sediments. Total N losses during the first 6 irrigations were 33 kg ha−1 from mulched and 230 kg ha−1 from unmulched furrows. Straw effect on N loss was only through changes in the runoff volume and sediment loss. In contrast, as fertilizer P increased, PO4 concentrations in runoff solution and sediments also increased. Averaged across the first 6 irrigations, straw mulch reduced PO4 losses in the runoff solution by 59, 61, and 72%, for the 0, 50, and 200 kg P ha−1 treatments, respectively. Straw reduced PO4 losses in the sediment 15-, 11-, and 15-fold for the 0, 50, and 200 kg P ha−1 treatments, respectively. Averaged across P fertilizer rates, total P lost after 6 irrigations was 18 kg ha−1 from mulched and 215 kg ha−1 from unmulched furrows. Mechanically applied straw mulch in irrigation furrows can substantially reduce soil erosion and N and P losses to sudace water runoff.

Contribution from the Oregon Agric. Exp. Stn., Tech. Paper no. 10574

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