Tillage translocation and tillage erosion: measurement, modeling, application and validation

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Li, Sheng
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Tillage erosion is a major contributor to the total soil erosion in cultivated topographically complex lands. No study has been carried out on tillage erosion associated with cereal-based production systems in the Canadian Prairies, and there is a need to examine tillage erosivity of secondary tillage and seeding implements and the effect of slope curvature on tillage translocation. With both tillage and water erosion occurring in a cultivated topographically complex landscape, it is valuable to investigate the relative contributions of and the possible linkage and interactions between these two erosion processes. Tillage translocation causes the mixture of subsoil into the till-layer, which may considerably affect soil properties and therefore the related biophysical processes. In this study, using plot tracers, we examined tillage translocation caused by four tillage implements: air-seeder, spring-tooth-harrow, light-cultivator and deep-tiller in southern Manitoba, Canada. We determined that secondary tillage and seeding implements could be as erosive as primary tillage implements in a cereal-based production system. In the majority of cases, tillage translocation could be explained by slope gradient alone; however, slope curvature also significantly affected tillage translocation. In two field sites in the North America Great Plains (NAGP), measured 137Cs inventories were converted into total soil erosion rates. Tillage and water erosion rates were estimated using models. The comparisons of the model estimates to 137Cs estimates showed that both tillage and water erosion significantly contributed to the total soil erosion in undulating slopes while tillage erosion was the predominant erosion process in hummocky hilltops. The contributions of and the linkage and interactions between water and tillage erosion showed predictable patterns in different landform elements, with the knowledge of which, landscape segmentation could be used to assess the potential of soil erosion. Further investigation of tillage translocation was demonstrated with four hypothetic landscapes: plane slope, symmetric hill, asymmetric hill and irregular hill, and is tested against field data. A Visual Basic coded program (TillTM) was developed to simulate the redistribution of soil constituents and soil mass. We determined that the pattern of soil mass redistribution was dependent on topography, while the pattern of soil constituent redistribution was affect by topographic features, tillage patterns and temporal scales.
Tillage translocation, Tillage erosion, modeling
Li, S., Lobb, D.A., Lindstrom, M.J., 2006 (In press). Tillage translocation and tillage erosion in cereal-based production in Manitoba, Canada. Soil Tillage Research.
Li, S., Lobb, D.A., Lindstrom, M.J., Farenhorst, A., 2006 (In press). Tillage and water erosion in cultivated fields of the northern North American Great Plains evaluated using 137Cs measurements and soil erosion models. Catena.