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Declines in surface water quality has emerged as one of the foremost environmental, social, and political issues in the Midwestern United States over the past several decades. One of the leading causes of water quality issues in this region has been linked to non-point source surface runoff of soil, nutrients, and chemicals from primarily agricultural landscapes. Surface runoff negatively affects water by facilitating eutrophic conditions and additionally, negatively impacts landscapes by reducing the organic and top soil layers leading to production declines. Thus, best management practices that focus on reducing runoff rates in agricultural acreage are a high priority. The objective of this research project was to evaluate the use of forage grasses for reducing runoff. We simulated pasture establishment using a series of replicated indoor grow trays which included bare soil (control) as well as cool and warm-season pasture mixes. Upon exposure of experimental trays to a standard 2-inch spring rain, it was found that the bare soil exhibited the highest runoff potential with the two warm and cool-season treatments exhibiting increasingly less runoff. The implications of this research are important as this work provides insight into agricultural pasture establishment methodology that benefits environmental stewardship.

Publication Date

Spring 2020


Soil runoff; pasture grasses; Water quality


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Potential of Pasture Grasses to Reduce Soil Runoff in Simulated Spring Seeding Applications