Infiltration rates are affected by several soil properties and may provide the most sensitive indication of changes in soil properties. To evaluate the use of infiltration measurements for detecting changes in soil properties, infiltration studies were conducted on a cropping systems experiment, a tillage experiment, and two beef cattle grazing experiments. In Pennsylvania, significant changes in infiltration rate did not occur until more than four years after converting from a conventional to a low-input cropping system. Infiltration rates were higher on 14th-year-no-till plots compared with moldboard plow and chisel treatments, in an Iowa tillage study. Earthworm populations and activity were highest in the no-till treatment. Infiltration rates correlated negatively with increased stocking rates in a long-term beef grazing, in Oklahoma. The number of earthworms did not correlate positively with infiltration in this Oklahoma study, suggesting a complex interaction. A short-term study of overwinter beef corn-stalk grazing in Iowa did not show consistent patterns in infiltration rate or other soil properties with different stocking rates. Infiltration appears to be a good indicator of soil structural changes associated with cropping, tillage, and management systems.
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