Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems


Authors: Jerabek, Jakub; Zumr, David; Dostal, Tomas; Tenreiro, Tomas R.; Strauss, Peter; Vaverkova, Magdalena D.


Soil hydraulic properties (SHP) can be affected by many different factors including: management practices (tillage practices, crop residue management), land use, or natural phenomena (fires, intensive rainfall, drought). Changes in SHP may have a negative impact on infiltration, soil water balance or plant water availability. Although changes of SHP caused by tillage or fires have been vastly studied, such studies are usually restricted to a specific area or do not study the subsequent effects of the changed soil on water movement. In this paper, we present a modelling case-study of the intra-seasonal soil water dynamics at several locations that were subjected to topsoil changes due to tillage management or fire. The effects of no-tillage (NT), minimum, reduced, or other types of non-conventional (alternative) tillage (AT), mulch application (MU), and fire (BURNED) were compared with the effects of conventional tillage (CT) on the soil water dynamics. The changes in SHP due to tillage practices and fire were obtained from the literature. All management practices and fire effects were tested using numerical simulation at three European catchments. According to the literature review, compared to CT, the MU and BURNED treatments affected soil hydraulic properties significantly. NT and AT also influence them, but to a lesser extent. The results of this modelling exercise replicate the effects of tillage on the SHP. The most persistent positive effect on soil water dynamics was under MU treatment. The effect of NT and AT were site specific, suggesting that these results must not be generalized or extrapolated without cautious considerations on the local conditions. BURNED exhibited the most negative effect on soil water dynamics in most cases.

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