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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Soil Resources and Air Quality Affected by Wind Erosion and Fugitive Dust Emissions: Processes, Simulation and Control

Location: Engineering and Wind Erosion Research Unit

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Improve and extend the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) model and.
2) integrate WEPS with the National Soil Erosion Research Lab (NSERL) Water Erosion Prediction Program (WEPP) model to consolidate research resources for the two models and to improve the ease of simulating both wind and water erosion.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1. a) Extend WEPS beyond the current homogenous simulation area approach to improve simulation of field-scale variability by: i) further modularizing the erosion science code, ii) adding sub-field capability, iii) refining WEPS gridding algorithms, and iv) adding landscape terrain effects to WEPS; b) improve model inputs and science for WEPS through: i) updating weather, ii) adding crop competition and improved crop growth, iii) adding seasonal wind barrier porosity variability, and iv) improving soil and vegetation measurements with laser distance techniques; c) extend WEPS to additional soil types (i.e., organic dominated soils) and treatments (i.e., applied biosolids); and d) modify WEPS for application to special problems (i.e., regional air quality modeling, add PM2.5 emission, batch mode for WEPS, develop a single-event model); and e) publish the WEPS technical document. 2. Utilize common science and interface code for WEPP and WEPS to: a) provide common runoff and evaporation processes between the two models; b) provide common “winter processes” (simulation of freezing, thawing, freeze-drying processes); c) add water erosion specific input (hillslope length, slope, etc.) and output (water erosion, runoff, etc.) to the current standalone WEPS interface; d) address restrictions to simulating a homogeneous region represented by a single soil with common management practices applied to the entire field; and e) provide the necessary inputs to represent water erosion specific practices, such as terraces, artificial drainage, etc. to the user interface.


3.Progress Report:
A new release of the Wind Erosion Prediction System to NRCS is planned for September, 2013. The updated version will include the following improvements: i) correction of errors in the hydrology and residue decomposition code, a bug fix in erosion reporting, and other minor bugs; ii) changed interface to allow WEPS to run under Java 7 and fixed interface bugs or made other enhancements related to input/output reporting and printing, and selection of barriers; iii) updated databases with improved crops, operations, and weather records.

The Wind Erosion Prediction System computer code was also enhanced with the addition of sub-field capability. The model can now simulate field variation in soil type and management actions within a field and between adjacent fields. Once testing is complete, the user interface and documentation will be revised and the enhanced model made available to the public. The core component of the model that simulates the wind erosion processes has also been coded into discrete modules. The use of improved computer memory allocation and a modular structure enable developers to more easily add new functions, such as wind blowing and movement of surface residues. These enhancements will be included in a future release.

Collaborative research with university scientists in Florida and Michigan continued a study with the goal to determine the effects of organic dominated soil properties, climate, and management on soil wind erodibility properties over time. The field portion of the research was completed and data analysis is in progress.

Laboratory wind tunnel research was begun into predicting the emission of fine particles less than 2.5 microns in size from agricultural soils. Such fine particles are regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a health concern and predicting the potential amounts of emissions from various soils will aid in the design of control practices.

With the aid of satellite data, the erosion submodel has been incorporated into a regional air quality modeling system. This new modeling system can be applied to investigate the impact of windblown dust on ambient PM10 concentrations for historical events.

The Wind Erosion Prediction System model was used to simulate the effects of crop residue removal for bioenergy on wind erosion potential. Results will help producers and planners determine the amounts of crop residue available for bioenergy purposes while maintaining the soil and air quality in the regions where residue is removed. Simulations were made for over 90 crop rotations on the major soil types in 241 counties in five Great Plains states (CO, KS, OK, NE, TX). Rotations were simulated for high and low yields crops, with and without residue removal.

Three chapters were substantially completed for an upcoming USDA Agricultural Handbook: The Wind Erosion Prediction System Technical Documentation. The chapters were: .
1)Hydrology Submodel;.
2)Data Requirements;.
3)Single Storm Applications.


Review Publications
Evers, B.J., Blanco-Canqui, H., Staggenborg, S., Tatarko, J. 2013. Dedicated bioenergy crop impacts on soil wind erodibility and organic carbon in Kansas. Agronomy Journal. 105(5):1271-1276.

Gao, J., Wagner, L.E., Fox, F.A., Chung, S., Vaughn, J., Lamb, B.K. 2013. Spatial application of WEPS for estimating wind erosion in the Pacific Northwest. Transactions of the ASABE. 56(2):613-624.

Wagner, L.E., Fox, F.A. 2013. The management submodel of the Wind Erosion Prediction System. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(3):361-372.

Tatarko, J., Sporcic, M.A., Skidmore, E.L. 2013. A history of wind erosion prediction models in the United States Department of Agriculture Prior to the Wind Erosion Prediction System. Aeolian Research. 10:3-8.

Chung, S.H., Herron-Thorpe, F.L., Lamb, B.K., Vanreken, T.M., Vaughn, J., Gao, J., Wagner, L.E., Fox, F.A. 2013. Application of the Wind Erosion Prediction System in the AIRPACT regional air quality modeling framework. Transactions of the ASABE. 56(2):625-641.

Retta, A., Wagner, L.E., Tatarko, J., Todd, T. 2013. Evaluation of bulk density and vegetation as affected by military vehicle traffic at Fort Riley, Kansas. Transactions of the ASABE. 56(2):653-665.

Blanco-Canqui, H., Holman, J.D., Schlegel, A.J., Tatarko, J., Shaver, T.M. 2013. Replacing fallow with cover crops in a semiarid soil: effects on soil properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 77(3):1026-1034.

Hagen, L.J., Casada, M.E. 2013. Effect of canopy leaf distribution on sand transport and abrasion energy. Aeolian Research. 10:37-42.

Wagner, L.E. 2013. A history of wind erosion prediction models in the United States Department of Agriculture: The Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS). Aeolian Research. 10:9-24.

Zobeck, T.M., Baddock, M., Van Pelt, R.S., Tatarko, J., Acosta Martinez, V. 2013. Soil property effects on wind erosion of organic soils. Aeolian Research. 10(1):43-51.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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