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Total porosity and random roughness of the interrow zone as influenced by tillage

Total porosity and random roughness of the interrow zone as influenced by tillage

Us Dep Agr Conserv Res Rep 7: 1-21

Total porosity and random roughness were estimated for the area between 40-in. corn rows (the interrow). These estimates were developed and tested in tillage experiments conducted on Barnes-Aastad, Nicollet-Webster, and Kranz-burg-Poinsett soil associations in western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. The tillage treatments were chosen to give a wide variation of total porosity and random roughness. The total porosity is the inches of porosity per initial 0- to 6-in. layer of soil, and random roughness is an index of the microvariations of elevation of the soil surface in an interrow area where there are no directional tillage tool marks. Large and statistically significant differences in total porosity occurred between a freshly plowed and a plowed-disked-harrowed interrow area. The freshly plowed surface had a greater porosity in the majority of trials. However, the opposite result was observed consistently in the Kranzburg-Poinsett and in some cases in the Nicollet-Webster and Barnes-Aastad associations. Much of the difference in porosity resulting from the freshly plowed and plowed-disked-harrowed treatments was explained by the soil moisture content at tillage time in relation to the moisture content at the lower plastic limit. Disking and harrowing decreased the porosity when performed on soil in the friable or harsh range of consistency, but increased the porosity when performed on soil in the plastic range of soil consistency. Hence, in row-crop tillage the interrow total porosity cannot be completely specified by the tillage operation, but is greatly affected by the soil type and soil moisture content at tillage time. The random roughness following preplanting tillage was usually associated with the type of tillage treatment. There was evidence that the previous crop affected the random roughness of the plowed interrow areas but did not significantly affect the random roughness of the plowed-disked-harrowed interrow areas. Frequently, the random roughness index value for spring-plowed interrow areas and the interrow areas that were spring plowed, disked, and harrowed was not different from the value for untilled soil at the end of the growing season. This agreement occurred in 2 growing seasons during which the 2 tillage treatments were each sequentially the same. Usually the total porosity resulting from these treatments was greater than the total porosity of the untilled soil at the end of the growing season, but at the end of each growing season there was little difference between treatments involving spring plowing. In an investigation consisting of 2 years of tillage following alfalfa, 2 seasons of the same tillage did not give additive effects on total porosity.

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