Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9: (Fall 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The future of rain-fed agriculture depends upon reducing soil water evaporation and improving soil water storage. We must reduce runoff and increase water infiltration. By keeping more crop residue on the soil surface, growers are reducing erosion. Increased water infiltration has led to problems in some areas where fallow was practiced by causing saline seeps. Farmers will adapt to farming methods that conserve more soil water and increase crop production.

Reducing Soil Water Evaporation with Tillage and Straw Mulching presents an excellent review of the literature (over 230 research papers) explaining the process of reducing water evaporation with tillage and crop residue and its importance to crop production. The process of evaporation from the soil is complex. Different cropping systems, soils, climate, and rainfall patterns vary around the world, adding to the complexity.