Soil hydraulic properties as influenced by prairie restoration
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Prairies are complex living systems which play a vital role both biologically and ecologically in the environment and support a large amount of wildlife. Prairie restoration is an ecologically friendly way to restore prairie land that was lost due to various reasons. This study evaluated a native prairie and a restored prairie to assess the influence of prairie restoration on soil hydraulic properties. Samples were collected from two prairie sites, a continuous no-till site, a long-term timothy grass site, and a row-crop field. All sites were located in Missouri and have Mexico silt loam (fine, Smectitic, mesic, Vertic Epiaqualfs) soil series. Samples were analyzed for bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat), soil water retention, pore size distribution and In-situ saturated hydraulic conductivity was measured in the field. Results imply that the prairie restoration does significantly influence some hydraulic properties in claypan soils; however, it is unlikely to achieve the original prairie soil characteristics due to the erosion of the top soil.