Pacific West Area
Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center
USDA-ARS, Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center
P.O. Box 370, Pendleton, OR 97801
1928 – The U.S. Bureau of Plant Industry’s Office of Dryland Agriculture allocated funds for “cooperative research work on the production of field crops—through breeding, tillage, rotation and other experimental methods,” at the Pendleton Field Station.
1931 – The Soil Conservation Service of the USDA established the long-term tillage and rotation plots that remain today as the oldest continuously managed research plots in the western United States; and cereal-breeding research was initiated at Pendleton by the Division of Cereal Crops.
1940 – Tillage and fertility experimental plots were initiated to study conservation tillage techniques and nitrogen fertilization. These plots still exist.
1954 – The Soil and Water Conservation Division of Agricultural Research Service appointed an Agricultural Engineer.
1963 – Cereal/legume rotations and water er requirements of crops were examined for different rainfall zones.
1965 – Congress appropriated funds to establish the Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center. Facilities were completed in 1970 and staff grew from two scientists in 1965 to seven scientists in 1980.
1965-1985 – Water use data from long-term plots provides information to create agroclimatic zones maps for the Pacific Northwest.
1977-2000 – Cereal leaf, tiller, and root developmental research leads to MODWHT, a wheat growth model.
1975-present – Use of the long-term plots allows in depth studies of effects of management on soil properties and carbon sequestration. Long-term changes in soil organic matter content and quality influenced by crop rotation, tillage and crop productivity were defined using the long-term plots. Runoff and erosion plots provided data to improve the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation and to better define water and sediment quality as related to management.
1980- 1985 – Identification of non uniform chaff and straw distribution by practically all combines during harvest led to rapid improvement in residue dispersal systems and much improved drill performance and crop growth in no-till systems.
1999-present – Research on mechanical manipulation of residues has led to better seedling emergence and vigor, and improved no-till drill performance.
2000-present – An improved residue management method was developed using ground-driven rubber fingered wheels that attach to no-till drills and pin residue to the soil surface thus preventing the residue from lodging on the furrow opening tines and plugging the drill.
2004 - By incorporating soil texture class, drainage class, and harvest operation, the carbon sequestration model (CQESTR) is improved thus making it one of the most widely used agronomic models for assessing crop production methods and their influence on soil carbon storage and potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
2004 - Paired watersheds are used to effectively demonstrate the benefits of conservation tillage in controlling soil erosion.
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