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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Ralston Project

Authors
item Forte-Gardner, Olivia - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV
item Young, Francis

Submitted to: Washington State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: June 7, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In the past couple of years, producers in the Pacific Northwest have shown increased interest in conservation cropping systems that include no-till planting spring cereals in the arid and semiarid regions. Growers in these regions typically rotate winter wheat- fallow which is characterized by winter annual grass weeds, soil erosion by wind, and soil born diseases. In the past there has not been any production studies to help growers make the transition from conventional to no-till cropping systems. However, the Ralston Project, the first multi-interdisciplinary study to examine no-till spring cropping systems, in the fallow region, has determined, evaluated, and provided several best management practices for no-till cropping systems. These BMPs are being used by growers to assist with the adoption and adaption of conservation spring cropping systems on portions of their farms that have particular production problems and are not sustainable.

Technical Abstract: To sustain wheat production in the dryland regions of eastern WA, spring wheat must be included in soil conserving crop rotations. In the traditional winter wheat/fallow system, dust blowing from summer fallow fields or from winter wheat fields in the fall reduces soil quality and decreases the long-term sustainability of agriculture in this region. Winter wheat in a wheat/fallow system is also plagued with weed problems, such as downy brome and jointed goatgrass and diseases, such as take-all. Continuous cropping of spring wheat or rotating spring wheat with winter wheat or spring barley would reduce the number of fallow fields, increase residue cover on fields in the summer and fall, increase soil quality, reduce soil erosion, and the incidence of winter annual grass weeds and diseases. In the past, spring wheat production has not been profitable because the crop has been planted into fields managed for winter wheat. Under these conditions, spring wheat typically yields about two-thirds as much as a winter wheat crop. For spring cropping systems to be successful and profitable, cultivars and production management practices must be improved or established for this agronomic zone.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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