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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 54 No. 1, p. 205-208
    Received: Mar 30, 1989

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Tillage and Fertilizer Effects on Water Infiltration

  1. J. F. Zuzel ,
  2. J. L. Pikul and
  3. P. E. Rasmussen
  1. USDA-ARS, Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center, P.O. Box 370, Pendleton, OR 97801



Tillage techniques have been linked to the formation of tillage pans, which cause reduced infiltration capacity and increased runoff and erosion. Reduced infiltration is especially detrimental on steeply sloping agricultural lands, which are common in many areas of the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Infiltration rates in three long-term tillage treatments with two fertilizer levels were measured using a rainfall simulator. Tillage treatments were plow, disk, and sweep, and have been continuous since 1940. Nitrogen fertilizer has been applied at 45 or 180 kg/ha since 1962. Final infiltration rates for the plow, disk, and sweep treatments averaged 17, 14, and 16 mm/h, respectively. The final rate for the high-N treatment averaged 22 mm/h vs. 9 mm/h for the low-N treatment. Results also indicate that surface sealing by raindrop impact and soil frost are probably more important than the tillage pan in controlling the infiltration capacity. Analysis of the infiltration-rate curves strongly indicates that, if surface sealing is prevented by a complete residue cover, the type of tillage does not have a significant effect on infiltration and is not a major factor in reducing the infiltration capacity of this soil. Conversely, fertility level is an important determinant of infiltration capacity, apparently because of the additional biomass produced by the crop.

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