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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Comparison of Runoff, Soil Erosion, and Winter Wheat Yields from No-Till and Inversion Tillage Production Systems in Northeastern Oregon

Authors
item Williams, John
item Gollany, Hero
item Siemens, Mark
item Wuest, Stewart
item Long, Daniel

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 28, 2008
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Citation: Williams, J.D., Gollany, H.T., Siemens, M.C., Wuest, S.B., Long, D.S. 2009. COMPARISON OF RUNOFF, SOIL EROSION, AND WINTER WHEAT YIELDS FROM NO-TILL AND INVERSION TILLAGE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN NORTHEASTERN OREGON. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 64(1):42-53.

Interpretive Summary: Efforts to compare of yields and conservation effectiveness in no-till and traditional inversion tillage systems is often criticized by farmers for not representing production field. Our intention was to conduct a study comparing the traditional two year system used in this region with a more intensively managed four year systems at a spatial scale appropriate to conservation and crop yield issues of production agriculture. Two small drainages, 15 acres and 25 acres, in north-central Oregon, 13.5 inch per year rainfall zone were instrumented to record runoff and erosion 2001 through 2004. One drainage was farmed in a two year wheat/fallow rotation by the cooperating producer using inversion tillage practices. The second drainage was divided into four equal areas in a four year no-till rotation, winter wheat/chemical fallow/winter wheat/garbanzos. Soil moisture, runoff, soil erosion, and crop yields were recorded and analyzed. We recorded 13 runoff events from the inversion tillage and three from the no-till drainages. There was 13 times more runoff and 53 times more erosion from the traditional system There were no significant differences among the average wheat yields from inversion or no-till tillage treatments, despite having one year of fallow replaced with a garbanzos crop in the four year rotation. In a production field-scale comparison, the four year no-till treatment was a more effective soil and water conservation system while producing comparable wheat yields to a two year inversion tillage treatment. This information is useful for farmers considering a change from traditional inversion tillage to no-till farming practices.

Technical Abstract: Comparisons of yields and conservation effectiveness in no-till and inversion tillage systems is typically confined to small plot research. Results from this type of research are often criticized for being site specific with results that do not transfer to production field scales, for crop yield or conservation effectiveness. Our intention was to conduct a study comparing the traditional two year system used in this region with a more intensively managed four year systems at a spatial scale appropriate to conservation and crop yield issues of production agriculture. Two small drainages, 5.76ha and 10.68ha, in north-central Oregon, 340 mm/yr precipitation zone were instrumented to record runoff and erosion 2001 through 2004. One drainage was farmed in a two year wheat/fallow rotation by the cooperating producer using inversion tillage practices. The second drainage was divided into four equal areas in a four year no-till rotation, winter wheat/chemical fallow/winter wheat/garbanzos. Soil moisture, runoff, soil erosion, and crop yields were recorded and analyzed. We recorded 13 runoff events from the inversion tillage and three from the no-till drainages. Four year total runoff and erosion were 5.1mm:422.5kg/ha and 0.7mm:7.94kg/ha from the inversion and no-till treatments, respectively. There were no significant differences among the average wheat yields from inversion or no-till tillage treatments (kg/ha/cy), despite having one year of fallow replaced with a garbanzos crop in the four year rotation. In a production field-scale comparison, the four year no-till treatment was a more effective soil and water conservation system while producing comparable wheat yields to a two year inversion tillage treatment.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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