Impact of alfalfa on soil and water quality

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Dominance of row crop agriculture in rolling landscapes of western and Southwestern Minnesota is identified as a primary, non-point source of sediments and associated pollutants reaching the Minnesota River. Currently as a biomass energy project, alfalfa is being promoted in western Minnesota to harvest the leaves for animal feed and stems to generate electricity. As a perennial, leguminous crop grown with minimum inputs, introduction of alfalfa in row cropped lands has potential to improve both in-situ soil productivity and downstream water quality. A field study was initiated in 1996 to compare the volume of runoff and pollutants coming from alfalfa ... continued below

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30 p.

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Sharma, P.; Moncrief, J. & Gupta, S. October 30, 1997.

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Description

Dominance of row crop agriculture in rolling landscapes of western and Southwestern Minnesota is identified as a primary, non-point source of sediments and associated pollutants reaching the Minnesota River. Currently as a biomass energy project, alfalfa is being promoted in western Minnesota to harvest the leaves for animal feed and stems to generate electricity. As a perennial, leguminous crop grown with minimum inputs, introduction of alfalfa in row cropped lands has potential to improve both in-situ soil productivity and downstream water quality. A field study was initiated in 1996 to compare the volume of runoff and pollutants coming from alfalfa an com-soybean fields in western Minnesota. Two pair of alfalfa and corn-soybean watersheds were instrumented at Morris in the Fall of 1996 to measure rainfall, runoff, and sample water for sediment load, phosphorus, nitrogen, biochemical oxygen demand, and chemical oxygen demand. Simulated rainfall-runoff experiments were conducted on an existing crop rotation - input management study plots at Lamberton to evaluate soil quality effects of the inclusion of alfalfa in a corn-soybean rotation under manure and fertilization management schemes. Alfalfa soil water use as a function of frequency of harvest was also monitored at Morris to evaluate the effect of cutting schedule on soil water use. During the growing season of 1997, alfalfa under a two-cut management scheme used about 25-mm (an inch) more soil water than under a three-cut schedule. The mean differences between the treatments were not significant. The conclusions drawn in this report come from analysis of data collected during one winter-summer hydrologic and crop management cycle. Continued observations through a period of at least 3-5 years is recommended to improve the instrumentation robustness and discern the variability due to climate, soil, and crop management factors.

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30 p.

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OSTI as DE98005863

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  • Other Information: PBD: 30 Oct 1997

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  • Other: DE98005863
  • Report No.: DOE/GO/10147--4A-Pt.9
  • Grant Number: FC36-96GO10147
  • DOI: 10.2172/621882 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 621882
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc692505

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  • October 30, 1997

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Aug. 14, 2015, 8:43 a.m.

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  • Nov. 13, 2015, 8:30 p.m.

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Sharma, P.; Moncrief, J. & Gupta, S. Impact of alfalfa on soil and water quality, report, October 30, 1997; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc692505/: accessed July 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.