Soil water regime and crop yields in relation to various technologies of cultivation in the Kulunda Steppe (Altai Krai)

  • V. Beliaev Altai State Agrarian University
  • T. Meinel Компания «Амазон»
  • L. Grunwald Amazon Company
  • G. Schmidt Institute of GeoSciences and Geography, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
  • A. A. Bondarovich Altai State University
  • V. V. Scherbinin Altai State University
  • E. V. Ponkina Altai State University
  • A. V. Matsyura Altai State University
  • E. Stephan Institute of GeoSciences and Geography, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
  • P. Illiger Institute of GeoSciences and Geography, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
  • N. A. Kozhanov CH "Partner"
  • N. V. Rudev CH "Partner"
Keywords: global and regional climate change, geo-ecological monitoring, crop yields, agricultural technology, dry steppe, Kulunda Plain


This article presents the results of crop yield in areas with different technologies of cultivation based on the network of automatic stations that provide data on climatic and soil-hydrological monitoring in the dry steppe during the vegetation period of May–September 2013–2016 . These data  on regional ecological and climatic parameters are of great interest to the ecologists, plant physiologists, and farmers working in the Kulunda Plain (Altai Territory). We compared the following options for cropping technologies: the modern system, which is the "no-till", technology without autumn tillage;the intensive technology of deep autumn tillage by plough PG-3-5 at a depth of 22–24 cm. Cultivation of crops was carried out using the following scheme of crop rotation: the modern system: 1–2–3–4 (wheat – peas – wheat – rape); the intensive system: 5/6 – 7/8 – 9/10 (fallow – wheat – wheat). We believe that the use of modern technology in these conditions is better due to exchange between the different layers of soil. When  the ordinary Soviet system , the so-called "plow sole" , was used , at a depth of 24 cm , we observed that this creates a water conductivity barrier that seems to preclude the possibility of lifting water from the lower horizons. Results of the study of infiltration of soil moisture at the depth of 30 and 60 cm  have shown in some years the advantages of the modern technology over the ordinary Soviet system: in the version with the use of modern technology we can trace better exchange between the various horizons and , probably,  moisture replenishment from the lower horizons. Differences in individual observation periods are comparatively large due to the redistribution of soil moisture, depending on the weather conditions, the crops used in the crop rotations, and cultivation techniques. Moreover, the average moisture reserves within the one meter layer did not show any significant differences during the growing seasons of 2013–2016 . In terms of soil moisture usage and productive grain yield according to the four year experiment, the application of the modern technology with crop rotation "wheat – rape – wheat – peas" was more effective than the ordinary Soviet system with crop rotation "wheat – fallow – wheat – wheat". The four-year observation period is clearly insufficient to identify the advantages of the modern system, as during this time it is impossible to significantly improve soil quality indicators, which will continue to determine its water-retaining properties and moisture accumulation.


Baig, M.N., Gamache, P.M., 2009. The economic, agronomic and environmental impact of no-till on the Canadian Prairies. Alberta Reduced Tillage Linkages, Canada.

Belyaev, V.I., 2015. Ratsional'nye parametry tekhnologii “no-till” i pryamogo poseva pri vozdelyvanii sel'skokhozyaisvennykh kul'tur v Altaiskom krae [Rational technology parameters of “no-till” and direct seeding in the cultivation of agricultural crops in the Altai region]. Vestnik Altaiskoi Nauki 23, 7–12 (in Russian).

Crabtree, B., 2010. In search for sustainability in dryland agriculture. Crabtree Agricultural Consulting, Australia.

Crosbie, R.S., Pickett, T., Mpelasoka, F.S., Hodgson, G., Charles, S.P., Barron, O.V., 2013a. An assessment of the climate change impacts on groundwater recharge at a continental scale using a probabilistic approach with an ensemble of GCMs. Climatic Change 117, 41–53. >>

Crosbie, R.S., Scanlon, B.R., Mpelasoka, F.S., Reedy, R.C., Gates, J.B., Zhang, L., 2013b. Potential climate change effects on groundwater recharge in the high plains aquifer, USA. Water Resour. Res. 49, 3936–3951. >>

Derpsch, R., Friedrich, T., 2009. Development and current status of no-till adoption in the world. Proceedings on CD, 18th Triennial Conference of the International Soil Tillage Research Organization (ISTRO). Izmir, Turkey.

Eitzinger, J., Trnka, M., Hösch, J., Žalud, Z., Dubrovský, M., 2004. Comparison of CERES, WOFOST and SWAP models in simulating soil water content during growing season under different soil conditions. Ecol. Model. 171, 223–246. >>

Friedrich, T., Derpsch, R., Kassam, A., 2012. Overview of the global spread of conservation agriculture. Field Actions Science Reports [Online], Special Issue 6. Retrieved from:

Friedrich, T., Kassam, A.H., Shaxson, F., 2009. Conservation agriculture. In: Agriculture for developing countries. Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Project, European Technology Assessment Group, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Fryuauf, M., 2014. Opyt i posledstviya severoamerikanskogo sindroma “dust bowl – pyl'nykh bur'” dlya proekta «Kulunda» [The experience and the effects of the North American syndrome "dust bowl – Dust Bowl" for "Kulunda" project]. Vestnik Altaiskoi Nauki 4, 226–233 (in Russian).

Gabriela, J.L., Munoz-Carpenab, R., Quemadaa, M., 2012. The role of cover crops in irrigated systems: Water balance, nitrate leaching and soil mineral nitrogen accumulation. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 155, 50–61. >>

Ines, A.V.M., Droogers, P., Makin, I.W., Das Gupta, A., 2001. Crop growth and soil water balance modeling to explore water management options. IWMI Working Paper 22. International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Jasechko, S., Birks, S.J., Gleeson, T., Wada, Y., Fawcett, P.J., Sharp, Z.D., McDonnell, J.J., Welker, J.M., 2014. The pronounced seasonality of global groundwater recharge. Water Resour. Res. 50, 8845–8867. >>

Kassam, A.H., Friedrich, T., Derpsch, R., 2010. Conservation agriculture in the 21st century: A paradigm of sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of the European Congress on Conservation Agriculture. Madrid, Spain.

Kassam, A.H., Friedrich, T., Shaxson, F., Pretty, J., 2009. The spread of conservation agriculture: Justification, sustainability and uptake. Int. J. Agr. Sustain. 7(4), 1–29. >>

Kiryushin, V.I., 2013. Problema minimizatsii obrabotki pochvy: Perspektivy razvitiya i zadachi issledovanii [The problem of minimizing tillage: Prospects for development and research tasks]. Zemledelie 7, 3–6 (in Russian).

Polubarinov-Kochin, P.Y. (ed.), 1972. Kulundinskaya step' i voprosy ee melioratsii [Kulunda steppe and questions of its reclamation]. Nauka, Novosibirsk (in Russian).

Lindwall, C.W., Sonntag, B., 2010. Landscape transformed: The history of conservation tillage and direct seeding, knowledge impact in society. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

Liu, D., Wang, G., Mei, R., Yu, Z., Yu, M., 2014. Impact of initial soil moisture anomalies on climate mean and extremes over Asia. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 119, 529–545. >>

Liua, H.L., Yanga, J.Y., Tana, C.S., Drurya, C.F., Reynoldsa, W.D., Zhanga, T.Q., Baib, Y.L., Jinb, J., 2011. Simulating water content, crop yield and nitrate-N loss under free and controlled tile drainage with subsurface irrigation using the DSSAT model. Agric. Water Manage. 98, 1105–1111. >>

Lopez-Urrea, R., Martin de Santa Olalla, F., Fabeiro, C., Moratalla, A., 2006. Testing evapotranspiration equations using lysimeter observations in a semiarid climate. Agric. Water Manage. 85, 15–26. >>

Maksyutov, N.A., Zhdanov, V.M., Skorokhodov, V.Y., Kaftan, Y.V., Mitrofanov, D.V., Zenkova, N.A., Zhizhin, V.N., 2015. Vlagosberegayushchie priemy i tekhnologii v zemledelii Orenburzh'ya [Water saving techniques and technologies in the agriculture of Orenburg region]. Zernovoe Khozyaistvo Rossii 6, 67–72 (in Russian).

Mosienko, N.A., 1972. Agrogidrologicheskie osnovy orosheniya v stepnoi zone (na primere Zapadnoi Sibiri i Severnogo Kazakhstana) [Agrohydrological irrigation bases in the steppe zone (by the example of Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan)]. Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad (in Russian).

Panfilov, V.P., 1972. Vodno-fizicheskaya kharakteristika pochv Kulundy v svyazi s orosheniem [Water-physical characteristics Kulunda soils due to irrigation]. Nauka, Novosibirsk (in Russian).

Puzanov, A., 2014. Aufbau eines bodenhydrologischen Messnetzes in der sibirischen Kulunda steppe. Wasserwirtschaft 10, 15–22. >>

Scanlon, B.R., Faunt, C.C., Longuevergne, L., Reedy, R.C., Alley, W.M., McGuire, V.L., McMahon, P.B., 2012. Groundwater depletion and sustainability of irrigation in the US High Plains and Central Valley. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109, 9320–9325. >>

Slyadnev, A.P., 1965. Geograficheskie osnovy klimaticheskogo raionirovaniya i opyt ikh primeneniya na yugo-vostoke Zapadno-Sibirskoi ravniny [Geographical bases of climatic regions and the experience of their application in the south-east of the West-Siberian Plain]. Geografiya Zapadnoi Sibiri. Novosibirsk (in Russian).

Soldevilla-Martinez, M., Quemada, R., López-Urrea, R., Munoz-Carpena, J.I., Lizaso, J.I., 2014. Soil water balance: Comparing two simulation models of different levels of complexity with lysimeter observations. Agric. Water Manage. 139, 53–63. >>

Stanton, J.S., Ryter, D.W., Peterson, S.M., 2013. Effects of linking a soil-waterbalance model with a groundwater-flow model. Groundwater 51, 613–622. >>

Steward, D.R., Bruss, P.J., Yang, X., Staggenborg, S.A., Welch, S.M., Apley, M.D., 2013. Tapping unsustainable groundwater stores for agricultural production in the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas, projections to 2110. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 3477–3486. >>

Voronina, L.V., Pazukhina, R.A., Slyadnev, A.P., 1972. K voprosu o teplovom balanse yugo-vostoka Zapadno-Sibirskoi ravniny [Comments on the heat balance of the south-east of the West Siberian Plain]. Geografiya Zapadnoi Sibiri 60, 34–72 (in Russian).

Westenbroek, S.M., Kelson, V., Dripps, W., Hunt, R., Bradbury, K., 2010. SWB – a modified thornthwaite-mather soil-water-balance code for estimating groundwater recharge. US Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey, Ground Resources Program.

Yue, S., Pilon, P., Cavadias, G., 2002. Power of the Mann-Kendall and Spearman’s rho tests for detecting monotonic trends in hydrological series. J. Hydrol. 259, 254–271. >>

Zhang, X., Alexander, L., Hegerl, G.C., Jones, P., Tank, A.K., Peterson, T.C., Trewin, B., Zwiers, F.W., 2011. Indices for monitoring changes in extremes based on daily temperature and precipitation data. Wiley Interdiscip. Rev. Clim. Change 2, 851–870. >>

Zhang, X., Hegerl, G., Zwiers, F.W., Kenyon, J., 2005. Avoiding inhomogeneity in percentile-based indices of temperature extremes. J. Clim. 18, 1641–1651. >>