This study aimed to better understand how tillage row orientation with respect to dominant flow-pathway along hillslope impacts runoff and the transport of different sediment size fractions. Experimental plots were constructed in contour ridge till (CRT) and parallel ridge till (PRT) sites to monitor runoff and sediment fluxes. Particle size fractions of the sediment, along with organic C and N contents were measured to quantify physical and chemical enrichment ratios for the two tillage orientations. In the CRT plot, tillage produced large oriented roughness elements along the contours, which acted as little check dams, while in the PRT site, the roughness elements helped confine and concentrate the runoff. In the CRT, the “check dams” resulted in a runoff coefficient of .03, while in the PRT, the flow confinement between rows produced a runoff coefficient of .82. Moreover, the erosion rates at the CRT site were 97% less than those in the PRT plot. Large contours produced finer sediment fractions due to the selective sorting in ponded furrows. More aggregate sediment fractions were present in the PRT site, which was dominated by rill erosion. Physical enrichment revealed selective entrainment of finer sediment particles during erosion. Finer-grain particles with higher specific surface areas, attached more organic C resulting in chemical enrichment. Physical and chemical enrichment methods were found to be in good agreement. These findings suggest transport models that can simulate size fraction updates to the soil active layer can be used to estimate SOC redistribution and hence more accurate C budgets.
Wacha, K.M., Papanicolaou, A.N., Abban, B.K., Wilson, C.G., Giannopoulos, C.P., Hou, T., Filley, T.R., and Hatfield, J.L. (2020): The impact of tillage row orientation on physical and chemical sediment enrichment. Agrosystems, Geosciences, and Environment. DOI: 10.1002/agg2.20007
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.