Soil Erosion from Tillage Systems Used in Soybean and Corn Residues

In 1985 the University of Nebraska – Lincoln published a study of the erosion from tillage systems used in corn and soybean residues.

Note the erosion is recorded in T/Ha or metric Tonne per hectare. Multiplying T/Ha by 0.446085956 converts our answer to tons per acre. (Where one ton equals 2,000 pounds).

They report on soil loss after 50 MM of rainfall. Page 72 of the Mason County KY Soil Survey states that the average total rainfall from April 1 thru Oct 31 is 26.1 inches. That is 662.7 MM of rainfall which means we can expect 13.3 times more erosion than measured for 50 MM of rainfall.

Predicted erosion caused by Mason County’s average rain restated in imperial Tons / Acre.

All calculations were done based on best possible practices for 10% slope ground. As you can see, corn residue land that does not use optimum no-till practice can increase topsoil loss by as much as 21.8 times. Poor practices on soybean land only increase losses by 2.15 times. Sadly this reduced impact of optimum tillage practices is because even the best practices in soybean residue lose 85 tons of topsoil per acre each year.

Mason County must find ways to replace lost tobacco and dairy revenue that do not deplete our topsoil.

Soil erosion from current levels of corn and soybeans is silently stealing our land’s ability to support crops. Mason County land can not support current row crop acreage long-term. 

Source material discussed