Effects of tillage and compost amendment on infiltration in compacted soils

F. Mohammadshirazi, V. K. Brown, J. L. Heitman, R. A. McLaughlin
2016 Journal of Soil and Water Conservation  
Soils are compacted during land development through soil excavation and heavy equipment traffic. Compacted soils have limited infiltration and are susceptible to erosion. Infiltration can be enhanced by various approaches including tillage and compost addition. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of tillage and adding compost to reduce stormwater runoff and sediment loss by improving infiltration in simulated postconstruction soils. Tillage treatments were tested at two
more » ... re tested at two sites in the Piedmont region of North Carolina (Piedmont 1 and 2). Prior to applying tillage and amendment, soils at both sites were graded to remove the surface horizon and compacted with a vibratory roller. At Piedmont 1, the treatments were compacted with no tillage, shallow (15 cm [5.9 in] depth) tillage (ST), and deep (30 cm [11.8 in] depth) tillage (DT). At Piedmont 2 the treatments were compacted, DT, and DT with incorporated compost (DT+Com). The grass seed mixtures recommended by the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the location (Piedmont) and time of planting were applied at each site. Runoff volumes (RV) and total suspended solids were measured after each of the first 12 and 13 storm events at Piedmont 1 and 2, respectively. Infiltration rate (IR) and bulk density (BD) were determined five and seven months after establishment at Piedmont 1 and 2, respectively. At both sites, RV and total amount of soil loss were reduced with tillage by 60% to 82% during the monitoring period. Neither deeper tillage nor incorporating compost significantly affected these results. Grass establishment was significantly better with tillage. The IRs measured at the end of the monitoring period were around 1 cm h -1 (0.4 in hr -1 ) in the compacted treatment but ranged from 19 to 33 cm h -1 (7.5 to 13 in hr -1 ) in the tilled treatments, again with no effects of tillage depth or compost. The results suggest that tillage to a depth of at least 15 cm (6 in) can be highly effective for improving soil conditions and reducing runoff and erosion from soils compacted as the result of construction activities.
doi:10.2489/jswc.71.6.443 fatcat:wjnbt5jiangyxicndfcg2bqs4a