Effects of wheat stubble on runoff, infiltration, and erosion of farmland on the Loess Plateau, China, subjected to simulated rainfall
Abstract. Soil and water losses in agriculture are major environmental problems worldwide, especially on the Loess Plateau, China. Summer fallow management may help to control soil erosion and conserve water. This study investigated the effects of wheat stubble on runoff, infiltration, and soil loss in laboratory plots under simulated rainfall. The treatments comprised wheat stubble cover (WS) and traditional plowing (TP) in runoff plots (4.0 m × 1.0 m) with three slope gradients (5, 10, and 15°) under simulated rainfall at 80 mm h−1 for 1 h. The runoff volume from WS plots was significantly less than that from TP. The runoff reduction with WS ranged from 91.92 to 92.83 % compared with TP. The runoff rates varied with the runoff volume in the same manner. The infiltration amount was higher with WS (94.8–96.2 % of rainwater infiltrated) than TP (35.4–57.1 %). The sediment concentration was significantly lower with WS than TP. Compared with TP (304.31–731.23 g m−2), the sediment losses were reduced dramatically in WS (2.41–3.78 g m−2) and the sediment loss slightly increased with slope; however, it was greatly increased as slope increased in TP. These results revealed that the stubble cover was the main factor reducing runoff and sediment losses and improving infiltration and that stubble showed a great potential to control erosion and conserve soil and water resources during the summer fallow period in the Loess Plateau region.