Rangeland soil quality--Infiltration (Soil Quality Information Sheet, Rangeland Sheet 5)

TitleRangeland soil quality--Infiltration (Soil Quality Information Sheet, Rangeland Sheet 5)
Publication TypeGovernment Report
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsHerrick JE, Tugel A.J., Shaver P.L., Pellant M.
PublisherUSDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service
ARIS Log Number142790
Keywordsgovernment publication
AbstractInfiltration rate is simply how fast water enters the soil and is usually measured in inches or millimeters per hour. This rate depends on soil texture (amount of sand, silt, and clay) and on soil structure. Soils in good condition have well developed structure and continuous pores to the surface. As a result, water from rainfall or snowmelt readily enters these soils. The proportion of water from rainfall or snowmelt that enters the soil depends on residence time (how long the water remains on the surface before running off) and the infiltration rate. These are affected by vegetation and many soil properties. The soil and vegetation properties that currently limit infiltration and the potential for increasing the infiltration rate must be considered in any management plan. Where waterflow patterns have been altered by a shift in vegetation, such as a shift from grassland to open-canopy shrub land, restoration of higher infiltration rates may be difficult or take a long period, especially if depletion of organic matter and/or soil loss have occurred. Excessive grazing of forage can impair infiltration. Management strategies include: increase the amount of plant cover, especially of plants that have positive effects on infiltration; decrease the extent of compaction by avoiding intensive grazing and the use of machinery when the soils are wet; decrease the formation of physical crusts by maintaining or improving the cover of plants or litter and thus reducing the impact of raindrops; and, increase aggregate stability by increasing the amount of organic matter added to the soil through residue decomposition and vigorous root growth.
Government BodySoil Quality Institute, Grazing Lands Technology Institute, and National Soil Survey Center, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA; the Jornada Experimental Range, Agricultural Research Service, USDA; and Bureau of Land Management, USDI