ECM for Cropped Environments - Residue Management

Residue Management:

Residue is plant material, such as stems, leaves, and roots, left in the field after harvest. Leaving plant residue on the soil surface can protect the soil from both water and wind erosion. Residue covers soil particles so that they are less susceptible to being dislodged by the energy of water and wind. The degree of erosion control by residue cover depends on the residue type and amount. Residue percentage is a measure of the percent soil ground per unit area covered with residue. For example, in the chart below, a 50% residue soybean residue cover is as effective as a 50% corn residue cover. However, with less than 50% residue coverage, the corn residue is better at reducing erosion than soybean residue. This is because the size of leaves and stems of soybeans are smaller than corn, and therefore, offer less protection from wind and water.

Soil loss due to water erosion in relation to percent residue cover for Iowa, based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation. Image by Iowa State University.