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Does improving soil health benefits water quality in the Mississippi Delta?
Proceedings of the 2022 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2022 Authors: Sarmiento-Rodriguez L.A., Ramirez Avila J.J., Locke M., Singh G., Achury S.O.
Research has shown that enhancing soil health improves crops productivity and benefits water quality. A study was established to determine whether differences in soil health, associated with different soil management practices, could have a positive effect on runoff water quality from agricultural fields in the Mississippi Delta. The soil quality/health indices for plots/fields with different management scenarios in two different locations of the Mississippi Delta, are to be correlated with runoff water quality concentrations and loads. The soil health/quality index for the study fields/plots was determined using the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF). Study fields/plots were planted with irrigated soybean and corn under different cover crop residue scenarios in 2021. Six indicators were selected to contrast the potential impact of management practices: aggregate stability, soil organic carbon, pH, soil test phosphorus, bulk density and soil test potassium. Irrigation runoff samples were collected from corn and soybean plots to determine concentrations and loads of total phosphorus, nitrate—nitrogen (NO3-N), total Kjeldhal nitrogen, total nitrogen, total suspended solids, salinity, pH, and turbidity. This presentation will show preliminary results of the study as well as further steps towards the completion of a sensitivity analysis of the SMAF tool.