391 C-factor Research on Horticultural Crops for Erosion Prediction: Philosophy and Methodology of Data Collection

in HortScience
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  • 1Dept. of Agriculture, Alcorn State Univ., Lorman, MS 39096; 2USDA-NRCS, NSERL, West Lafayette, IN 47907; 3NPDC, Baton Rouge, LA 70874;4 USDA-NRCS, Jackson, MS 39269

Even though research and education systems have transformed agriculture from a traditional to a high-technology sector, soil erosion still remains as a major universal problem to agricultural productivity. The Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and its replacement, the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) are the most widely used of all soil erosion prediction models. Of the five factors in RUSLE, the cover and management (C) factor is the most important one from the standpoint of conservation planning because land use changes meant to reduce erosion are represented here. Even though the RUSLE is based on the USLE, this modern erosion prediction model is highly improved and updated. Alcorn State Univ. entered into a cooperative agreement with the NRCS of the USDA in 1988 to conduct C-factor research on vegetable and fruit crops. The main objective of this research is to collect plant growth and residue data that are used to populated databases needed to develop C-factors in RUSLE, and used in databases for other erosion prediction and natural resource models. The enormous data collected on leaf area index (LAI), canopy cover, lower and upper biomass, rate of residue decomposition, C:N ratio of samples of residues and destructive harvest and other gorwth parameters of canopy and rhizosphere made the project the largest data bank on horticultural crops. The philosophy and methodology of data collection will be presented.