Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science

First Advisor

Patricia S. Johnson


Through the use of a small-plot rainfall simulator the effects of various vegetation types and growth forms on the infiltration, runoff and erosion on two clay soils in southern South Dakota were explored. Three vegetation communities were selected on each of the two soils. For each vegetation community three sites were selected; at each site four 1m2 plots were selected for sampling using a small plot (1m2) rainfall simulator. Measurements of percent cover by species, percent litter, percent standing dead, plant height by species, percent bare ground, and slope were taken no more than three days before the rainfall simulator run on each plot. Soil samples were taken immediately prior to each simulator run to calculate percent soil moisture. Runoff from the plot was collected and weighed; infiltration was calculated by the difference between the amount applied and the runoff. Water samples were collected from the runoff at given time intervals and analyzed for sediment content. The objective of this study is to determine the attributes of the grassland communities on these two soils that provide protection from erosion while allowing water to infiltrate into the soil. This information was then used to derive models that allow the prediction of runoff and erosion with a minimal number of variables. The two soils were associated with very different plant communities, and factors important in their effects on runoff and soil loss were often quite different between soils. These were different even for the one plant community resident on both soils. This research demonstated [sic] that attributes important in their effects on runoff and soil loss on different plant communities on the same soil can differ widely. For both soils the amount of runoff and soil loss can be predicted at least moderately well with equations specific to the soil and/or plant community. Prediction of runoff and soil loss for the general ecological site provides relatively poor accuracy.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soil moisture -- South Dakota
Soil erosion -- South Dakota




South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright