Oklahoma Farm Report masthead graphic with wheat on the left and cattle on the right.
Howdy Neighbors!
Ron Hays, Director of Farm and Ranch Programming, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network  |  2401 Exchange Ave, Suite F, Oklahoma City, Ok 73108  |  (405) 601-9211


Agricultural News

Eastern Redcedars Encroachment on Tallgrass Prairies Present Major Threat to OK Water Resources

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:18:30 CST

Eastern Redcedars Encroachment on Tallgrass Prairies Present Major Threat to OK Water Resources Redcedar invasion has been a known problem for nearly 80 years and it does not seem to be going away.

An ongoing Oklahoma National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research project conducted by Oklahoma State University discovered eastern redcedar encroachment in the tallgrass prairie really sucks … up a lot of water.

“Eastern redcedar encroachment into grasslands is a major issue in Oklahoma as it can impact streamflow and water supply,” said Chris Zou, ecohydrologist in OSU’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management.

Zou collaborated with NREM colleagues, Donald Turton, Rodney Will, Lei Qiao and Elaine Stebler to study how eastern redcedar encroachment affects the annual water runoff in the tallgrass prairie.

“Our results showed that less than 2 percent of annual precipitation became runoff in watersheds encroached with eastern redcedar, which was significantly lower than about 5 percent from grassland watersheds for the four years of our study,” Qiao said. “We also found that eastern redcedar encroachment resulted in the reduction of both surface and subsurface flows and the magnitude of reduction depended on annual rainfall.”

This has important implications because eastern redcedar uses more water than tallgrass prairie vegetation, leaving less water available for streamflow, which is important for ecological and human uses.

The researchers used seven experimental watersheds, three of which were on grassland sites and four on adjacent sites heavily encroached by eastern redcedar. Watersheds are widely used in studying water budgets associated with a given land use type or land cover type to understand climate and land-use impacts on water quantity and quality.

The study, which began in 2013 and will conclude this year, determined how wet the soil was before and after rainfall events in both grasslands and areas encroached by the eastern redcedar trees. The wetter the soil, the closer it was to saturation.

“It is more likely to produce runoff or produces more runoff when the soil is more close to saturation just before the rainfall event, vice versa,” Zou said. “Our finding is that the soil of grassland watershed tends to be wetter (closer to saturation) than redcedar woodland in most cases, and we measured less runoff from redcedar watersheds even under the same precipitation input.”

Even after large amounts of rain, the redcedars were making an impact.

“Our soil moisture data indicated that the soil profile under eastern redcedar rarely became saturated and did not stay above field capacity very long even after a heavy rainfall,” Stebler said.

The fact that redcedar encroachment is a problem is not new, but if the problem continues to grow, it could have devastating effects. While Oklahoma rangelands are somewhere between two and 10 percent covered with the species, the researchers estimate a complete conversion of rangelands to eastern redcedar woodlands would result in reductions of up to 40 percent in annual streamflow for the upper portion of the region and approximately 20 percent for the lower Cimmaron River basin.

“The impact is more a potential threat rather than a fact at this stage, but to sustain our water resources in the Southern Great Plains, watershed managers should use best management practices to control or prevent woody plant encroachment into the grassland,” Zou said.

Source - Oklahoma State University



WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI


Top Agricultural News

  • Steer and Heifer Calves Trade 3.00 - 6.00 Higher on Tuesday at OKC West Livestock Auction  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 16:31:10 CST
  • Arysta's 'UNLOCK 5' Can Help You Optimize Your Crop's Yield Potential- Lynn Justesen Explains How  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:54:11 CST
  • Farm Bureau Leaders Zippy Duvall and Jeff Aiken Call Attention to New Clean Water Rule's Strengths  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:25:29 CST
  • John Deere Company to Launch New Start-Up Collaborator Program in Its Intelligent Solutions Group  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:19:56 CST
  • Updated Study by USMEF Quantifies Value Delivered to Corn Producers Through Red Meat Exports  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:10:57 CST
  • House Ag Chair Mike Conaway, AFBF President Zippy Duvall Embrace the EPA's "Clear Water Rule"  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:04:23 CST
  • University of Nebraska Veterinary Epidemiologist Brian Vander Ley on Vaccine Efficacy, Management  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:52:14 CST
  • Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole Expresses His Support for Rural Americans in Op-Ed for McCarville  Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:41:58 CST

  • More Headlines...


    Ron salutes our daily email sponsors!

    Livestock Exchange Oklahoma Ag Credit Oklahoma Farm Bureau National Livestock Credit P&K Equipment Tulsa Farm Show Stillwater Milling KIS FUTURES, INC. Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association

    Search OklahomaFarmReport.com

    Find more about Weather in Oklahoma City, OK

    © 2008-2018 Oklahoma Farm Report
    Email Ron   |   Newsletter Signup   |    Current Spots   |    Program Links

    WebReady powered by WireReady® Inc.