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Effects of crop and pasture rotations and surface cover on rainfall infiltration on a Kandosol in south-west Queensland



Effects of crop and pasture rotations and surface cover on rainfall infiltration on a Kandosol in south-west Queensland



Australian Journal of Soil Research 46(3): 203-209



An experiment was conducted on a Kandosol in south-west Queensland from 2001 to 2005 to determine the effects of fallow management practices and crop and pasture rotations on soil properties and crop production. In April 2004, infiltration measurements were made using a rainfall simulator at the end of a 6-month fallow period following harvest of crop phases (wheat under reduced tillage and zero tillage, chickpea under zero tillage) and following termination of pasture phases (2-year legume and grass + legume leys) with herbicide application and zero tillage during the fallow period. Measurements were made at 3 surface cover levels in each treatment: (i) where crop or pasture dry matter was cut at ground level and removed to approximate 0% cover, (ii) at existing cover percentage, and (iii) where wheat straw was added to give 100% cover. In a separate study to monitor water infiltration, the movement of bromide applied to the soil surface in November 2003 was monitored in the soil profile to 1.5 m soil depth in April 2004 and February 2005.Mean cumulative infiltration after 100 mm rainfall over 1 h was 35, 42, and 69 mm (l.s.d. P = 0.05, 6) with 0%, existing, and 100% cover, respectively, and was greater following wheat (52 mm) than following chickpea (39 mm) under zero tillage (l.s.d. P = 0.05, 13). Short-term pasture leys did not appear to improve infiltration characteristics of the soil under the conditions of this study.In the rainfall simulator study, mean drainage of water below 1.5 m soil depth was 8.5% of applied rainfall. In the bromide tracer study, only similar to 12% of the applied bromide could be accounted for in the 0-1.5 m soil depth 15 months after application. Rainfall received during this period was similar to the long-term mean amount.Results demonstrate the importance of surface cover in increasing rainfall infiltration on this soil, thereby potentially improving soil water storage for crop and pasture production and reducing the risk of runoff and soil erosion. However, the relatively rapid movement of water and solutes through the soil profile has implications for possible adverse effects of drainage to lower parts of the landscape and for nutrient leaching below the root-zone, decreasing the availability of soil and applied nutrients to crops and pastures.

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Accession: 022506554

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

DOI: 10.1071/SR07162


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