Biological Systems Engineering, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Transactions of the ASABE, Vol. 61(3): 955-966.

doi 10.13031/trans.12569


US govt work


One of the factors contributing to overland flow on upland areas is water stored temporarily in a thin sheet on the soil surface as surface detention. This study was conducted to quantify surface detention on selected cropland, rangeland, and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sites. Surface detention was determined from the recession portion of runoff hydrographs corresponding with the period when rainfall had ceased but runoff continued. The hydrographs were generated from six previously reported rainfall simulation studies conducted on paired 3.7 m wide  10.7 m long plots on which approximately 128 mm of rainfall was applied. Surface detention values were found to increase as crop residue or vegetative cover increased. Eleven fallow cropland sites in the eastern U.S. had surface detention values that varied from 1.7 to 4.6 mm. Surface detention on plots in southwestern Oklahoma containing Old World bluestem, no-till wheat, and conservation-till wheat was 9.4, 7.3, and 5.2 mm, respectively. No-till sorghum, tilled sorghum, no-till wheat, and tilled wheat plots in southeast Nebraska had surface detention values of 6.7, 4.5, 6.7, and 4.6 mm, respectively. Mean surface detention on no-till and tilled cropland sites in southwest Iowa containing corn residue was 7.2 and 5.9 mm, respectively. CRP study sites in southwestern Iowa had mean surface detention of 10.8 mm. When data from the six field studies were combined, mean surface detention values for fallow cropland, tilled cropland, no-till cropland, rangeland, and CRP areas were 3.1, 5.0, 6.9, 9.6, and 10.8 mm, respectively.