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Tillage translocation and tillage erosivity by planting, hilling and harvesting operations common to potato production in Atlantic Canada



Tillage translocation and tillage erosivity by planting, hilling and harvesting operations common to potato production in Atlantic Canada



Soil and Tillage Research 97(2): 123-139



In Canada, the negative impacts of tillage erosion is a growing concern, especially in regions where highly erosive cropping and tillage systems are practiced on highly erodible, topographically complex landscapes. To date, tillage erosion studies have focused primarily on the movement of soil by primary and secondary tillage operations. However, in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production there is often considerable soil disturbance that occurs during "tertiary" field operations conducted during the growing season. Therefore, the objective of this project was to generate tillage translocation and erosivity values for implements common to planting, hilling and harvesting operations within intensive potato production systems in Atlantic Canada. Our results show that tertiary tillage operations result in significant soil displacement and can be equally as erosive as primary and secondary tillage operations. Both the planting, cultivating and hilling (PCH) sequence and the harvester moved soil extremely large distances (up to 23.6 and 6.0 m, respectively). In fact, the mean translocated distance of the tilled layer (T-L) and the mass of translocated soil (T-M) of the PCH sequence (0.42 m and 115.9 kg m(-1), respectively) and the harvester (0.55 m and 71.7 kg m(-1), respectively) are larger than those reported previously for primary and secondary tillage operations in New Brunswick. In addition, the net downslope movement of soil for the PCH sequence and the harvester was approximately 36 and 26 kg m(-1), respectively, suggesting that both tertiary tillage operations have the potential to be erosive. A direct relationship was observed between both T-L and T-M and slope gradient for the PCH sequence, but similar relationships were not found for the harvester, even though the harvester moved approximately 30 % more soil downslope than upslope. Linear regression functions were generally improved after including slope curvature in the model, but these results were not always significant. Soil movement by the PCH sequence and harvester were also largely influenced by tillage speed and tillage depth, and future research is needed under controlled conditions to determine whether it is changing topography or the variability in tillage speed and depth across the landscape in response to changing topography that is driving tillage erosion within mechanized agricultural systems. It is clear that tertiary tillage operations must be considered when developing best management practices to improve soil conservation strategies for potato production systems in Canada and worldwide.

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Accession: 020495131

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DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2007.09.005


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