Effect of tillage on soil erosion losses with a wheat-oat rotation and pasturing in the Andean foothills of the south-central region of Chile

Nicasio Rodríguez S.1 , Emilio Ruz J., Adriana Valenzuela P. y Ciro Belmar N.

A study for evaluating soil erosion as a result of four different tillage systems was carried out from 1994 to 1996 on a volcanic soil (Dystrandepts) at San Pedro, Ñuble province, in the foothills of the Chilean Andes (Lat. 37° 47´ S ; Long. 72° 01´0). Four soil treatments were evaluated using a completely randomized block design with three repetitions: conventional tillage (LC), vertical plowing (LV), direct drilling (SD) and permanent pasture (P). Surface drainage and erosion were measured in 11 m plots. The results obtained in each of the seasons indicate the highest soil losses are associated with the use of LC and decrease 4 to 5 times with LV and SD: (LC 19.3 t ha-1; LV 5.5 t ha-1; SD 3.0 t ha-1 and P 0.64 t ha-1). The largest losses occurred during winter, in June, July and August, in which months the soil is saturated with water. After August, vegetative cover provided by wheat reduced the beating action of the rain, increased the infiltration and reduced the surface runoff. Associated with the soil erosion, there was a loss of organic matter that for LC was of 2381 kg ha-1 yr-1, which is six times higher than for the other treatments. The total nitrogen was significantly reduced by LC, 121 kg ha-1 yr-1, whereas slight losses occurred when employing soil conservation methods.

Keywords: Soil erosion, tillage systems, crop rotation.
1 Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Centro Regional de Investigación Quilamapu, Casilla 426, Chillán, Chile. E-mail: nrodrigu@inia.cl.