Effect of Surface Residues on Soil Water Storage

  • Darryl E. Smika
  • Paul W. Unger
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Soil Science book series (SOIL, volume 5)


The amount and availability of soil water are major factors influencing crop production. These factors influence crop and variety selection, planting time and method, fertilization, and weed control practices. Some soils may contain too much water and require drainage before crops can be successfully grown. For other soils, plant-available soil water may be limited and irrigation or water conservation practices may be needed for successful crop production. Management of crop residues to maintain them on the soil surface has generally increased water conservation. Three general factors affecting water conservation with surface residues are: (1) protecting the soil surface against raindrop impact energy to maintain surface soil structure, thereby increasing infiltration and reducing runoff; (2) reducing evaporation; and (3) trapping and holding snow. The use of crop residues for water conservation has received more research attention in the arid and semiarid regions of the United States than in humid and subhumid regions. The arid and semiarid regions generally lie west of the 100th meridian, where annual precipitation is usually less than 500 mm, except for a narrow region of high rainfall immediately parallel to the west coast and in some intermountain valleys.


Soil Water Crop Residue Great Plain Conventional Tillage Conservation Tillage 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darryl E. Smika
  • Paul W. Unger
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Central Great Plains Research StationAkronUSA
  2. 2.Conservation and Production Research LaboratoryBushlandUSA

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