Indicators of Effective Water Cycle

Indicators of an effective water cycle include:

  1. The soil surface is loose and permeable.  There is no capping.
  2. The soil below the surface is permeable and well aerated, and free from  any ‘plough pan’, a band of compacted soil that is often found about 15 cm (6”) below the surface, especially if there is a history of cropping.
  3. Water runoff is very low, and what movement there is, is very slow.
  4. Any water that runs off is clear.
  5. Evaporation losses are minimised.
  6. Both droughts and floods tend to be less frequent and less severe.
  7. Total vegetative production is high.
  8. Vegetation growth rates are very rapid.
  9. Diversity of species composition is improving.
  10. Succession is rising
  11. There is a high organic matter content in the soil, meaning soil carbon levels are high.
  12. Springs will begin to reappear.
  13. Streams will flow for longer.
  14. Salinity, if present, will be reducing
A covered soil surface generally leads to all the above.

Indicators of an ineffective water cycle include:

  1. The soil surface is exposed, sealed or capped.
  2. The soil below the surface is compacted and poorly aerated.
  3. Water-logging is common
  4. Water runoff is high, and usually rapid.
  5. Water running off is dirty with top soil.
  6. Evaporation losses are very high.
  7. Droughts and floods tend to increase in frequency and severity.
  8. Underground water supplies often diminish.
  9. Dryland salinity increases in area and severity.
  10. Vegetation grows more slowly, less vigorously, and there is less total mass produced each season.
  11. Soil organic matter is low.
A bare soil surface generally leads to all the above.

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