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Wind erosion; Cropping systems; Fallowing; Frozen ground


A long-term study of the wind erodibility properties of a two-year spring wheat-summerfallow cropping systems was started in 1988 in south-central North Dakota as part of an USDA-ARS led effort to construct a process-oriented soil erosion predictive model. Observations were conducted on a conservation tillage experiment established in 1984 on soil classified in the U.S. as Typic-Pachic Haploborolls and in Canada as Brown to Dark Brown Chenozemic. The experiment included four residue-management treatments defined by targeted residue coverages: no-till, > 60% cover; minimal-till, 30% to 60% cover and undercutter dominated; conventional-till, < 30% cover and disk dominated; low-residue, < 5 % cover. Fall and spring measurements of dry aggregate size distribution (ASD) of surface soil (0 to 4 cm depth), and overwinter changes in ASD are reported here. A rotary sieve produced six size fractions ranging from < 0.42 mm to > 19.2 mm diameter. Measurements of ASD are expressed as geometric mean diameter (GMD) or erodible fraction (EF: fraction < 0.84 mm). Two major influences on overwinter changes in ASD were observed: (i) During the drier part of a multiyear weather cycle (1988 to 1990), disaggregative changes were observed, with a lowering of GMDs and an increase in EFs. Wetter years (1991 to 1993) brought mixed to aggregative ASD changes. (ii) The phase of the 21-month fallow period strongly affected overwinter ASD change, with large, aggregative changes (GMD up, EF down) observed over the first winter of the fallow period (stubble phase) and mixed aggregative to disaggregative changes observed in the second winter of fallow (residue phase). Tillage treatments had little apparent effect on overwinter ASD changes. Single and multiple regressions indicate that various factors would associate with significant fractions of variance in overwinter GMD change: (i) weather factors - (a) number of days with snowcover, (b) number of freeze-thaw cycles, and (c) precipitation in the fall; (ii) crop growth in years before the year of fallow; (iii) phase of the fallow period; and (iv) GMD level in the fall.

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