2007 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The overall goal of this research is to develop cost-effective and environmentally safe integrated cropping systems and precision farming practices that manage pests, and decrease erosion and commercial inputs thereby promoting environmentally sound and economically sustainable crop production systems in the semiarid Pacific Northwest.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Compare crop yield and economic returns from a four-year crop rotation (wheat-fallow-wheat-legume) under conventional, inversion tillage and no-tillage.
Determine whether conservation tillage, and alternative cropping systems will reduce winter annual grass weed competition, wind erosion susceptibility, and maintain profitability compared to a winter wheat-fallow production system.
Compare the effect of tillage and no-tillage on jointed goatgrass weed populations and seed dynamics in various wheat production systems.
Determine the best integrated crop rotation for jointed goatgrass management to prevent the development and spread of resistant weeds in Clearfield® wheat systems.
Determine the genetic diversity of Russian thistle (Salsola ssp.) in the Pacific Northwest in conservation reserve land and in conventional- and conservation-cropping systems.
Design and evaluate the agronomic performance of low-disturbance perennial-based, annual-based and organic agroecosystems.
Evaluate an alternative harvesting system that harvests the crop and sorts the grain by density.
Define the critical protein level associated with maximum yield in soft white winter wheat grown in a winter rainfall environment; determine the N deficit, or amount of additional N needed to reach the critical level; and ascertain if the critical level and N deficit are consistent across cultivars and water regimes.
Determine whether topographic, vegetation, and N indices computed from terrain modeling, crop yield monitors and grain quality sensors, and proximal/remote sensing can improve prediction of N use efficiency; and whether these indices can provide spatially distributed inputs for precision N management strategies.
Replacing 5348-22610-001-00D (10/1/06). Associated with Pendleton project 5356-13210-001-00D.
At the integrated conservation tillage, spring cropping systems study, four crop rotations were planted and harvested, including traditional winter wheat/fallow and three spring cereal systems. Data collected included crop yield, pest incidence, nitrogen cycling, carbon sequestration, and soil moisture. Winter wheat yield was similar following either winter wheat or spring canola. Weed pressure and subsequent herbicide usage was less in winter wheat following canola compared to following winter wheat. The last winter wheat crop for the 12-year study was planted in the fall of 2006.
Data was collected during the sixth year of a long-term study in eastern Washington to determine the frequency and time to use herbicide-resistant winter wheat crop to manage jointed goatgrass. Average crop yields were 49 bu/A for the herbicide resistant wheat and 47 bu/A for the conventional wheat. Control of jointed goatgrass was extremely variable with the herbicide resistant wheat plots averaging 79 jointed goatgrass seeds yd-2 compared to 55 seeds yd-2 in conventional wheat plots. Jointed goatgrass seeds were collected in plots, planted in the greenhouse and are currently growing to determine and/or confirm if we have selected for resistance.
In 2006, herbicide-resistant winter wheat was harvested from a study that was initiated in 2002 to determine the effect of no-till, deep plowing, herbicide-resistant winter wheat and length of absence of winter wheat on jointed goatgrass populations. During the 2005-2006 growing season, only two treatments were planted to winter wheat. The two treatments harvested in 2006 compared a history of one-time deep plowing followed by either no-till or light tillage. Winter wheat yield was 62 bu/A for the no-till treatment and 58 bu/A for the light-till treatment. Preharvest jointed goatgrass populations were 0.9 plant ft-2 and 0.1 plant ft-2 for the no-till and lightly tilled treatments respectively.
The low-disturbance organic farming system within the Agroecosystem Research Trials (ART) was redesigned in 2006 based on economic analysis from the previous 4 years. The redesign:.
1)extended the alfalfa hay phase of the crop rotation to three or more years; and.
2)added a grass/clover pasture phase that integrates livestock into the system. Organic alfalfa was established in 2006 and first harvested in 2007. Organic grass-legume pasture was established in 2006 and grazed using sheep in the spring of 2007. The perennial-based cropping system within the ART study was also redesigned to replace perennial wheat with tall wheatgrass for biofuel production.
Comparisons of uniform versus precision application of N fertilizer for spring and winter wheat continued during 2006 and 2007 at the Cook Agronomy Farm (CAF). In winter wheat, precision applications reduced rates of applied N by 20% compared to uniform applications while achieving similar yield and grain protein. Field-based decision support tools using N efficiency ratios were developed and are being tested at the CAF and with on-farm cooperators.
Successful alternative crop rotation systems increase sustainability in the winter wheat/fallow region of the Pacific Northwest.
In an inter/multidisciplinary conservation tillage cropping systems study, facultative spring wheat was planted and successfully established in November in the century-old winter wheat /fallow region. Scientists from the USDA-ARS in Pullman WA, three universities, two state/federal agencies, and a group of interested growers have conducted a 4-year study to reduce winter annual grass weeds, soil borne diseases, and wind erosion in the low-rainfall, wheat fallow region of the Pacific Northwest. November planted facultative wheat yielded 33 to 42 bu/A compared to winter wheat (planted in November), which yielded 19 to 32 bu/A. Yield of winter wheat planted in September ranged from 35 to 60 bu/A. Compared to winter wheat planted in September, facultative wheat reduced weeds and diseases and the seed did not require seed-zone soil water for immediate crop germination. A successful facultative wheat rotation would increase pest control and sustainability on more than 4 million acres in the Pacific Northwest. The National Program Component for NP207 is Component I – Attributes of Integrated Agricultural Systems and Associated Projects and the Problem is to change agricultural practices and discover integration among agro-ecosystems components to optimize economic returns and environmental benefits of dryland crop production systems.
Fertilizer N reduced with precision management.
Current strategies for agroecosystem management in the Pacific Northwest largely ignore site and time specific interactions among crop and environmental variables. Undesirable consequences of whole field approaches to farming practices are poor nutrient use efficiencies, agrichemical movement beyond targeted agroecosystem boundaries and significant degradation of air, soil and water quality. Field scale cropping systems research on continuous direct seed and precision ag. systems was initiated by ARS scientists in Pullman, WA on a 92 ac field at the Cook Agronomy Farm in 1999. Geo referenced sample locations were established on 369 points that are sampled each year to assess crop performance (yield, quality, economics, water and nutrient use efficiency). The first application of decision tools based on the diagnosis of factors influencing crop performance was for precision N management of wheat. Precision application of N has reduced N fertilizer use by up to 20% as compared to uniform N management without impacting wheat yield or grain protein. Changing old agricultural practices and integrating agro-ecosystems components will optimize economic returns and environmental benefits of dryland crop production systems. The National Program Component for NP207 is Component I – Attributes of Integrated Agricultural Systems and Associated Projects.
5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
A field tour of organic farming systems research applicable to small farms was conducted at the Palouse Conservation Field Station on June 13, 2007. Highlighted was research on the design of organic farming systems using no-till technology and integration of livestock.
|Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings||10|
Young, F.L., Thorne, M.E., Young, D.L. 2006. Nitrogen Fertility and Weed Management Critical for Continuous No-Till Wheat in the Pacific Northwest. Weed Technology. Volume 20:658-669.
Thorne, M.E., Young, F.L., Yenish, J.P. 2007 Cropping systems alter weed seed bank in Pacific Northwest, USA semi-arid wheat region. Crop Protection Journal 26 (8): 1108-1120.