soil moisture Tag

Researchers reporting in ACS Agricultural Science & Technology have developed a simple, biodegradable ground cover — wax-coated sand — that keeps soil wet and increases crop yields in arid environments. It could offer an alternative to plastic sheeting ground covers that are expensive and create a waste challenge. A thin layer of paraffin wax-coated sand applied on an open field in Saudi Arabia decreased the loss of soil moisture by as much as 50 to 80%. Field trials revealed that tomato, barley, and wheat plants mulched with the new material produced substantially more fruit and grain than those grown in...

A team of researchers from six universities, led by UC Santa Barbara's Samantha Stevenson, found that many regions of the world will enter permanent dry or wet conditions in the coming decades, under modern definitions of drought. "Essentially, we need to stop thinking about returning to normal as a thing that is possible," said Stevenson. This study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests instead measuring drought against a changing background state. "When we talk about being in a drought, the presumption is that eventually the drought will end, and conditions will return to normal," Stevenson said....

Related ATTRA publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are investigating cover crops suited to water-limited environments and varying growing conditions in the different regions of Texas. Farmers are looking to optimize cover crop use without consuming the soil moisture needed for cash crops. In the South Plains region of Texas, where cotton is grown, wheat and rye cover crops seem to work best when planted at a lower density than usual and terminated six weeks before planting cotton. In the Northern High Plains, corn-cotton rotations demand a short-season cover crop. For the Rolling Plains, scientists...

Related ATTRA video: Cover Cropping an Almond Orchard University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and their collaborators conducted a multi-year study on how cover crops in almond orchards and tomato fields affected groundwater recharge. The studies revealed that cover crop water use was negligible, and at season's end, soil moisture in cover-cropped fields was equal to that in clean cultivated fields. The living covers helped offset moisture losses from evapotranspiration, leading researchers to conclude that cover crops could be used for their multiple environmental benefits without impairing groundwater recharge. These findings can inform groundwater planning in California....