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2007 Soil and Water Conservation Society - Soil Quality Workshop

"Soil Quality: the Foundation for Natural Resource Quality"


Drs. D.G. Sullivan and C.C. Truman
USDA-ARS, Tifton, GA

Reduced tillage and surface residue increases infiltration, soil water content, and plant available water, while at the same time decreases runoff and sedimentation. Yet, there is a general lack of knowledge and appreciation regarding the impact conservation tillage has on sustainable water resources. The objective of this study was to estimate water savings as a result of conservation tillage adoption in Georgia. Total acreages by crop (cotton, corn, and peanut) and tillage (conventional and conservation) were obtained via the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) for the 2004 growing season. Rainfall simulation studies conducted over row-cropped lands in conventional and conservation tillage were obtained for soils in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont physiographies. Data were integrated within a geographical information system (GIS). In 2004, cotton, corn and peanut represented 85 % of row crop production in Georgia, with nearly 90 % of the acreage in the Coastal Plain. Conservation tillage systems are currently in place on approximately 30% of those acreages, primarily in the form of strip tillage. Results from rainfall simulation studies indicate that conservation tillage can reduce runoff and increase infiltration in these systems by 29 to 46%. Extrapolating these results to the state, conservation tillage reduced estimated statewide, irrigated water requirements from 4-14%. Increasing conservation tillage to 40 % in intensively row-cropped counties where conservation tillage adoption rates were less than the national average (40%) increased estimated water savings by an additional 1-6%.

Dana Sullivan - Dana Sullivan received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resource Management in May 1996 from The Pennsylvania State University. She completed the degree of Master of Science in Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University in December of 1999. In January 1999, she received a NASA Space Grant Fellowship to complete a PhD in Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University. She is currently working as a soil scientist at the USDA-ARS- Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory investigating the use of remote sensing for the rapid assessment and management of agricultural resources.