Effects of Erosion on Soil Productivity

by D. L. Carter, Snake River Conservation Research, Cent, Kimberley, ID, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Forum '86: World Water Issues in Evolution


Erosion-caused crop production decreases up to 50% have been measured with decreases of 15 to 30% commonly reported. Furrow erosion on irrigated land redistributes topsoil, decreasing topsoil depth on the upslope 33% and increases topsoil depth on lower 50 to 55% of fields. Crop yields are decreased where topsoil depths are decreased, but yields are not increased where topsoil depths are increased above the original depth of 38 cm in a large study area representative of several million hectares of furrow irrigated land. Crops vary in their sensitivity to decreases in topsoil depth. Soil productivity of the entire study area was decreased at least 25% by furrow erosion over 80 irrigation seasons. Technology is not available to restore crop production to the potential level that would have existed without erosion. Research and technology application are needed to reduce or eliminate topsoil loss and redistribution by furrow irrigation to preserve our soil resources in furrow irrigated areas.

Subject Headings: Crops | Erosion | Productivity | Soil properties | Seasonal variations | Soil loss | Furrow irrigation

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