Date of this Version
GCB Bioenergy (2018) 10, 213–226
Crop residue removal can affect the susceptibility to soil wind erosion in climates such as those of the Central Great Plains, United States. Six on-farm trials were conducted in Kansas from 2011 to 2013 to determine the effects of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), corn (Zea mays L.), and grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench), residue removal at 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% of initial height on soil wind erosion parameters. Those parameters include soil surface random roughness (RR), and wind erodible fraction (EF; aggregates <0.84 mm), geometric mean diameter (GMD) and geometric standard deviation (GSD), stability of dry aggregates (DAS). Complete (100%) residue removal decreased the surface RR, increased EF, and decreased GMD. Overwinter EF values increased for five of six sites from fall 2011 to spring of 2012, particularly for the uppermost removal height (≥75%). Measured EF, GMD, GSD, DAS, and RR were also input into the Single-event Wind Erosion Evaluation Program (SWEEP) to determine the effect of these parameters on simulated soil loss. The SWEEP simulated the wind velocity needed to initiate wind erosion as well as soil loss under each residue removal height at a wind velocity of 13 m s-1 for three hours. Threshold wind velocity required to initiate wind erosion generally decreased with increasing crop residue removal height, particularly for >75% removal. Total estimated soil loss over the three-hour event ranged from ≈2 to 25 Mg ha -1, depending on EF, GMD, GSD, RR, and percent crop residue cover. Removing 75% residue increased simulated wind erosion at three of six sites while removing 50% appears sustainable at all six study sites. Findings reinforce the need for site-by-site consideration of the potential amount of crop residue that may be harvested while mitigating wind erosion. Study results indicate the value of maintaining residue at >75% of original height.