Although crop and crop residue management practices are mainly used for increasing crop yield, they and the resulting changes in crop growth affect one or more hydrological components, including runoff. Based on published research in the Canadian Prairies, this paper reviews the effects of crop type, quantity of crops and crop residues, crop variability within landscapes, tillage, and stubble management practices on crop water use (termed including evaporation, transpiration and interception), snow trapping, and water infiltration, with the aim to discuss major impacts of crop and residue management on runoff. Rainfall runoff is influenced by rain interception and crop water use, and it can be reduced by choosing appropriate crop types, increasing above-ground biomass, or increasing coverage on the soil surface, activities which coincide with the farmer’s efforts of increasing crop productivity. However, although high stubble and reduced tillage for maintaining good residue cover help conserve soil moisture and improve soil health, they increase snowmelt runoff potential. The review emphasizes the need of future research to assess the agronomic and environmental trade-offs of crop residue management, the linkage between crop water use and runoff, and the impacts of crop and residue management on runoff across various temporal and spatial scales.
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