Visualizing Soil Properties: Runoff and Infiltration

Visualizing Soil Properties: Runoff and Infiltration


(soft music) -[Daniel Bloedel] What we’re going to show you today is the properties, the soil and plant properties of infiltration and run off. On the far left-hand side there, we have a cropland field soil that has been recently tilled. It’s the same soil as the next soil which is from an orchard. This soil, in particular, has some compaction issues, and it’s covered in the type of cover that would normally look like this at this time of year. The third soil here in the middle is a range land soil, it’s Bermuda or pasture, and it’s very well
aggregated but not real compact soil. It’s what would be considered a very
healthy soil. This is a range land soil with a little bit of residue to simulate bare ground on rangeland. And then, this is another rangeland soil with range grass, the heads aren’t on it but it probably galetta grass, and it shows
partial cover. So, what we want to do is simulate rainfall, and that’s what these gauges are for. And then, we’re going to look at both infiltration and run off. And then, we’ll discuss the differences. So, what we’re simulating here is, more or
less, we’re going to put about an inch to an inch and a half simulating a typical
New Mexico summer rainfall event. Okay. Let’s talk about the results of what we
see here. Now very first thing you see, obviously, is the runoff in the front jars, and you can see the difference in runoff. Now from our range land with partial cover, we have some runoff, some soil. From our range land with no cover we have a lot of runoff, and probably–probably good siltation, we can get some with our fingers, not a lot. From our range land soil that is healthy,
that has a lot of good cover, very little runoff. And what’s there is not perfectly
clear, but clearer than some of these others. From our compacted soil that’s on
orchard ground, we have run off, maybe a little bit less than the same soil on a
tilled ground. Now, let’s look at what the infiltration on the different soils are. Okay so, from this soil that ran off a lot that’s cultivated, we really–we have very very little, very little infiltration. In this soil that’s compacted, also a little bit more because it’s a perennial cover, so you’re going
to have a little bit more infiltration. But again, not as much. You have these,
most of the water is in the runoff. Over here with our healthy range land soil. What do we have here? We have a lot of infiltration. Very good infiltration captured water, and we’ll talk about that in a little bit. In this range land soil that has been not covered, it has bare ground, a little bit of infiltration but not very much. And then again, we have partial cover, even
just a partial cover on rangeland that’s protecting against the rainfall you can
see that we have some good infiltration. So, what we look for and what is
important about this is the importance of keeping a good plant cover on the
soil at all times. And that is, particularly, important in New Mexico when we have such strong rain storms that come all at once. The soil needs to
be healthy. It needs to be well aggregated. And it can only be that if
it’s in a healthy state. This is what we want to keep. We want to keep our water. We really don’t want to be sending water off and in a runoff situation. Not only for supply of water because we need to save and use our water to the best, especially
here in the southwest. But because, when we send it down with sediments in it, it’s contamination. It contaminates the streams. It could have pesticides in it. It could have nutrients in it. By looking at the different soils, you’ll be able to, once again, look at the soil health. Soil health is the ideal condition between the biological, physical, and chemical properties of the soil. And with good plant soil relationships, we can achieve that. (soft music)

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