INTEGRATING PRODUCTION AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES TO MAINTAIN GRASS SEED FARM PROFITS
Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research
Title: CONSERVATION PRACTICES IN WESTERN OREGON PERENNIAL GRASS SEED SYSTEMS. I: IMPACTS OF DIRECT SEEDING AND MAXIMAL RESIDUE MANAGEMENT ON PRODUCTION
Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 6, 2005
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Due to air quality and public safety concerns, the grass seed industry faced increasing legislative pressure since 1971 to ban field burning. Final legislation in Oregon was implemented in 1991 that phased down field burning between 1992 and 1998 to 90% of the historic high. We completed and ten-year field research project to see what happened when perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and creeping red fescue were grown for seed using direct seeding and returning all straw to the field. We found that perennial ryegrass and tall fescue had greater seed yields using direct seeding. Also, all three crops studied had just a high of seed yields when their straw was chopped back on the field, as when it was removed after baling. Compared with the industry standard practice of low residue management with conventional tillage establishment, high residue combined with direct seeding reduced soil erosion 76.9, 70.2, and 40.0 % for perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and creeping red fescue, respectively. Cost reductions for implementing the conservation system in perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and creeping red fescue were 60, 76, and 84%, respectively. Our findings are the first showing how high residue management can be used in combination with direct seeding in perennial grass seed cropping systems without need for burning the straw.
Recent legislative actions addressing concerns about water and air quality have placed restrictions on open field burning and other grass seed production practices. Because of natural resource quality concerns and economic pressures, there is a need for identify production systems that protect natural resources and provide economic returns to farmers. A 10-year field study was conducted at three locations in western Oregon comparing the effects of direct seeding (DS) with conventional tillage (CT) establishment and maximal (HR) with minimal (LR) residue management on seed yield, straw phytomass production, partial budget costs, and soil erosion of perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and creeping red fescue. Perennial ryegrass and tall fescue seed yields were greater using direct seeding, while creeping red fescue yields were unaffected. HR compared to LR did not affect seed yield. Both DS and HR reduced soil erosion and cost less to do than CT and LR by straw baling and removal. Compared with the industry standard practice of LR management with CT establishment, HR combined with DS reduced soil erosion 76.9, 70.2, and 40.0 % for perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and creeping red fescue, respectively. The cost savings using the conservation system were 60, 76, and 84%, respectively. Our findings are the first describing the suitability of DS used in combination with HR perennial grass seed cropping systems without burning post-harvest straw in the maritime Pacific Northwest region.