No tillage is not an ideal management for water erosion control in China

Xiao, Liangang and Zhao, Rongqin and Kuhn, Nikolaus J.. (2020) No tillage is not an ideal management for water erosion control in China. Science of the Total Environment, 736. p. 139478.

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No tillage (NT) has been recommended as an essential conservation agriculture (CA) management in terms ofwater erosion control. However, the term of NT actually represents both NT and NT plus straw mulching (NTS)in a large amount of studies, which is out of the scope of its original meaning. Consequently, the mixed use ofthe two terms may cause biased estimate of the role of NT in erosion reduction. We aimed to distinguish actualroles of tillage reduction and residue retention in erosion control based on published data fromfield experimentsof China. A database of paired experiments was compiled from 40 published literatures, with tillage practices in-cluding conventional tillage, reduced tillage, no tillage, and their combinations with residue retention. Variable-controlling approach was adopted to comprehensively identify the roles of tillage reduction and residue reten-tion in runoff and soil loss reduction. Our results showed that residue retention caused significant decline ofboth water and sediment loss, whereas tillage reduction only led to insignificant change of runoff and soil loss.No tillage plus residue retention was also beneficial in terms of erosion control, very likely due to the applicationof residue retention. The results strengthen the higher influence of residue retention over tillage reduction withrespect to soil and water conservation. It also challenges the conclusion of previous studies that NT could lead tothe reduction of both runoff and soil loss based on the mixed use of NT and NTS. Furthermore, the efficiency ofstraw mulching in erosion control declines as application duration increases, indicating the effects of CA shouldnot be overestimated in longer-term. The effectiveness of CA in erosion control also differs among various soiltypes. Overall, this study highlights the necessity of understanding the influences of tillage reduction, residue re-tention and the combination of the two managements in order to better evaluate and manage CA with respect towater erosion control, but the impacts of application duration of CA and soil types must be properly consideredwhen adopting CA to reduce erosion.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Physiogeographie und Umweltwandel (Kuhn)
UniBasel Contributors:Kuhn, Nikolaus J.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:22 Jun 2021 14:48
Deposited On:22 Jun 2021 14:48

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