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Gypsum Lowers Drawbar Power in Northern Great Plains Subsurface-Drained Sodic Soils

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(6): 1661-1669. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11689) @2016
Authors:   Anthony W. Wamono, Dean D. Steele, Thomas M. DeSutter, Zhulu Lin, Xinhua Jia, David Clay
Keywords:   Calcium, Draft, Drawbar power, Sodic soil, Spent lime, Subsurface drainage.

Abstract. The saline/sodic soils of the U.S. Northern Great Plains often have very low yields due to poor germination, become exceptionally hard when the soil dries, and can be a sediment source following rainfall events. In addition, subsurface drainage can result in the conversion of saline/sodic soils to sodic soils. Calcium-based surface amendments (Ca amendments) may help preserve or improve soil structure, thereby improving drainage and trafficability. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of selected subsurface drainage practices and Ca amendments on tillage power requirements. The research was conducted in a sodic soil near Wyndmere, North Dakota. The experiment used a completely random design with a split-plot arrangement in which whole plots consisted of free-outflow subsurface drainage (FD) and no subsurface drainage (ND), while split plots consisted of Ca amendments of 11.2 and 22.4 Mg ha-1 gypsum (GL and GH), 22.4 Mg ha-1 spent lime (SL), and check (CK) with no Ca amendments. A drawbar dynamometer measured draft on a chisel plow that was pulled across the plots by a tractor equipped with an auto-guidance system and instrumentation interfaced to its controller area network. No significant differences were observed in the mean drawbar power (Pd) of drainage treatments (53.6 kW for FD and 53.4 kW for ND). Compared with CK (54.8 kW), gypsum lowered the mean Pd (50.4 kW for GH and 51.2 kW for GL), while SL increased the mean Pd (57.6 kW). The Pd for GL was similar to that of GH. For the combined effects of drainage and surface treatments, the Pd of NDGH (48.9 kW) was significantly lower than that of FDGL, FDGH, and FDCK (51.7, 51.8, and 53.1 kW, respectively), which shows that drainage may have reduced soil moisture Ca activity. Twenty-three months after subsurface drainage installation, the Pd was lower (53.1 kW) in FDCK than in NDCK (56.4 kW). These findings suggest that subsurface drainage lowered drawbar power compared to no subsurface drainage when no amendments were applied. For low-productivity soils, NDGH had the lowest Pd, which may be a less costly approach to reducing drawbar power requirements compared with drainage coupled with gypsum application.

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