Journal of Environmental Hydrology
ISSN 1058-3912

Electronic Journal of the International Association for Environmental Hydrology

JEH Volume 19 (2011), Paper 25    Posted November 21, 2011

Prasanna H. Gowda1
John V. Westra2
Daniel Petrolia3
Brent J. Dalzell4
David J. Mulla4

1USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory, Bushland, TX
2Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA
3Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS
4Department of Soil, Water and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Conservation tillage methods are recommended by environmental protection agencies to reduce soil erosion and runoff from highly erodible cropland. Consequently, it gained wide acceptance among producers in the Upper Midwest and elsewhere. However, remote sensing based tillage mapping studies have shown that conservation tillage has also been adopted on flatter terrain to reduce farm operation costs. Recent demand for harvests of crop residues cover for biofuel production may present a win-win scenario for producers by decreasing tile drainage volumes while adding an additional income stream. The objectives of this study were to: (1) calibrate the Agricultural Drainage and Pesticide Transport (ADAPT) model for monthly flow, sediment, and nutrient losses; and (2) evaluate the effects of targeted vs. non-targeted removal of crop residue cover for biofuel production on water quality in the Sand Creek watershed located in south-central Minnesota. Comparison of model predictions for the calibration period against measured monthly flow, sediment, nitrate-N and P losses were in good agreement with r2 values of 0.75, 0.69, 0.70 and 0.50, respectively. Results indicate that removal of residue cover from all cropland significantly increased average annual sediment losses, with a slight increase in nitrate-N and P losses. Targeted removal of residue cover from flat landscapes had no significant effect on sediment and P losses when compared with non-targeted residue removal on all cropland. Therefore, removal of crop residue on flat lands may lead to increased revenue for producers, without significantly increasing sediment or phosphorus losses to surface waters.

Reference: Gowda, P.H., J.V. Westra, D. Petrolia, B.J. Dalzell, and D.J. Mulla. 2011. Impact of targeted removal of residue cover on water quality in the Sand Creek watershed. Journal of Environmental Hydrology, Vol. 19, Paper 25.
Prasanna H. Gowda
Research Agricultural Engineer
USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory
P.O. Drawer 10
Bushland, TX 79012


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