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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Water Quality Impacts Associated with Wheat Culture in the Southern Plains


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 20 No. 1, p. 244-249
    Received: May 7, 1990

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. S. J. Smith *,
  2. A. N. Sharpley,
  3. J. W. Naney,
  4. W. A. Berg and
  5. O. R. Jones
  1. USDA-ARS-SPA, Water Quality and Watershed Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 1430, Durant, OK 74702;
    USDA-ARS-SPA, Southern Plains Range Res. Stn., Woodward, OK 73801;
    USDA-ARS-SPA, Conservation and Production Research Laboratory, Bushland, TX 79012.



Water quality information regarding wheat culture in the Southern Plains is sparse. The objective of this study is to determine the extent to which the area's surface and ground-water quality is influenced by different wheat cultural practices. Concentrations and amounts of sediment, N and P in surface runoff water were determined for conventional till (CT), reduced till (RT), and no till (NT) wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) watersheds in the High Plain, Reddish Prairie, and Rolling Red Plain land resource areas of Oklahoma and Texas. During the 4 to 6 yr study periods, RT and NT practices were superior to CT for reducing sediment and associated particulate nutrient discharge. Mean annual discharge ranged from 230 to 15 900 kg ha−1 for sediment, 1 to 27 kg ha−1 for total N, and 0.1 to 6 kg ha−1 for total P. Irrespective of tillage practice, annual soluble nutrient losses in surface runoff water tended to be small, often < 1 kg ha−1 N or P. Successful prediction of soluble P, particulate P, and particulate N losses was achieved using appropriate kinetic desorption and enrichment ratio procedures. Soluble N in runoff posed no particular water quality problem, but recommended P levels were exceeded, even from baseline, unfertilized grassland watersheds. With regard to groundwater quality, elevated levels of NO3 (e.g., 34 mg N L−1 maximum) were observed on one Reddish Prairie NT watershed.

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