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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Climatic and Topographic Relations of Three Great Plains Soils: I. Soil Morphology


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 54 No. 2, p. 469-475
    Received: Nov 9, 1988

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. C. W. Honeycutt ,
  2. R. D. Heil and
  3. C. V. Cole
  1. USDA-ARS New England Plant, Soil, and Water Lab., Univ. of Maine, Orono, ME 04469
    Colorado Agric. Exp. Stn., Colorado State Univ., Ft. Collins, CO 80523
    USDA-ARS Natural Resource Ecology Lab., Colorado State Univ., Ft. Collins, CO 80523



Factors affecting soil water balance can significantly influence organic matter and mineral nutrient levels in semiarid soils. Understanding the relationships of climate and topography with certain soil morphological properties may provide useful information for assessing climatic and topographic interactions on soil C, N, and P. Soil profiles were sampled on summit, shoulder, backslope, and footslope positions in three climatic zones of the semiarid central Great Plains characterized by 395, 444, and 514 mm of mean annual precipitation and 10.8, 10.7, and 11.5 °C mean annual temperature, respectively. Sites were selected on the basis of similarity for parent material, rangeland management, slope, and aspect. Depth to maximum clay content increased linearly with increased precipitation on summit positions. Depth to maximum clay and argillic-horizon thickness generally increased from the summit to lower landscape positions within a given clmiatic zone, indicating increased effective precipitation in this same direction. However, shallower sola and depths to maximum carbonate concentrations were found on some shoulder and backslope segments, in comparison with their respective summits. Thus, while effective precipitation may increase from the summit to lower landscape positions, these observations may also reflect hillslope erosional history or the importance of subsurface lateral flow.

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