Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Plant Science

First Advisor

T. E. Schumacher


Topsoil is a valuable resource to humankind. Current food production cannot be continued without this resource. Topsoil protection efforts must be continued or increased to meet future demands of mankind. Erosion reduces productivity but losses may not be detected until land is no longer suitable to produce crops economically, furthermore, other variables may mask the relationship. Technology advancement including improved seed varieties, modern fertilizer, and herbicide have doubled or tripled many North American crop yields in the past 50 years. The impact of topsoil removal is largely determined by subsoil properties as they affect root growth, soil available water and nutrient availability in the soil. A new soil environment is encountered when topsoil is removed either by natural or artificial erosion. This new environment in most cases is less suited for plant growth than original topsoil. Germination and emergence are often poor because of less than ideal soil physical properties. Topsoil loss may alter root system growth. The potential for nutrient and water uptake consequently depends on the new level of soil nutrients and available water surrounding the root system, and the morphology of the root system. Topsoil removal may change resistance of surface aggregates to the beating action of raindrops. The stability of surface aggregates is important because aggregates below the surface are protected from rapid wetting by those above. Unstable surface aggregates are easily broken down and transported in suspension. This can lead to the formation of crusts that inhibit the movement of water and air into the soil. Maridasan and Chibber obtained a significant negative correlation between aggregate stability and the erosion ratio. Furthermore, aggregate stability influences plant growth indirectly through its relationship to the maintenance of a porosity suitable for air, water, and root movement. Recently, researchers have devoted considerable effort to quantify the relationship between topsoil removal and soil productivity, principally on the basis of data from the North Central Region of the United States. The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the effects of erosion and desurfacing on soil physical and chemical properties. (2) to examine the relationships of aggregate stability (a measure of soil structural stability) with soil properties which result from the erosion and desurfacing of a Beadle Tax adjunct (Fine, montmorillonitic, mesic Typic Haplustoll). (3) to assess and compare the effect of erosion and desurfacing on continuous corn yield for this soil in eastern South Dakota.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soil erosion
Soil productivity
Soils -- Composition



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State