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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: QUANTIFYING AND PREDICTING EMISSION OF PM10 AND GREENHOUSE GASES FROM AGRICULTURAL SOILS

Location: Land Management and Water Conservation Research

Title: Diverse No-Till Irrigated Cropping Systems Instead of Burning and Plowing Continuous Wheat

Authors
item Schillinger, William -
item Young, Douglas -
item KENNEDY, ANN
item PAULITZ, TIMOTHY

Submitted to: Field Crops Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2009
Publication Date: January 4, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/37876
Citation: Schillinger, W.F., Young, D., Kennedy, A.C., Paulitz, T.C. 2010. Diverse No-Till Irrigated Cropping Systems Instead of Burning and Plowing Continuous Wheat. Field Crops Research. Volume 115, Issue 1, 4 January 2010, Pages 39-49 doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2009.10.001

Interpretive Summary: Stubble burning has been a management tool for irrigated wheat in the Pacific Northwest; however, concerns about air quality led growers and scientists to conduct a field study of alternatives. A 6-year, no-till field experiment investigated an irrigated crop rotation of winter wheat – spring barley– winter canola with residue management of standing stubble, stubble mechanically removed and stubble burning. Continuous winter wheat planted into plowed burned stubble was included as a check. Winter wheat yields trended higher in all no-till residue management treatments compared to the burn/plow check. Over-winter water storage efficiency improved when stubble was left standing. All no-till systems lost an average of -$389 per rotational ha. Continuous winter wheat averaged slightly higher, but was still negative. Soil organic carbon (SOC) increased each year with no-till at the 0-5 cm depth. Take-all disease of wheat was most severe in continuous winter wheat. Rhizoctonia was present on wheat roots, but did not cause yield loss in any treatment. The annual winter grass weed downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.) was problematic for winter wheat in the standing and mechanically removed stubble, but was controlled in the no-till stubble burned and the burn/plow check. This study was the first long-term effort to develop cropping systems for no-till irrigated farming in the Pacific Northwest. Although the performance of no tillage or wheat/barley/canola rotation was not economically viable compared to conventional tillage wheat rotation, producers can enhance soil quality or decrease the incidence of pests using no tillage and alternate crop rotations.

Technical Abstract: Field burning of stubble has long been used as a management tool for irrigated wheat in the Inland Pacific Northwest. Concerns about regional air quality and government regulations led growers and scientists to conduct a 6-year no-till field experiment to evaluate two cycles of a 3-year irrigated crop rotation of winter wheat – spring barley– winter canola sown (i) into standing stubble, (ii) after mechanical removal of stubble and, (iii) after burning of stubble. The traditional practice of continuous annual winter wheat sown after burning stubble and inverting the topsoil with a moldboard plow was included as a check. Over-winter precipitation storage efficiency improved when stubble was left standing. Winter wheat yields trended higher in all no-till residue management treatments compared to the burn/plow check. Six-year average net returns over total costs were equal over all four systems. All no-till systems lost from -$382 to -$396 per rotational ha. Continuous annual winter wheat averaged slightly higher, but still negative. Canola alone lost an average of -$611 ha-1 annually. Soil organic carbon (SOC) increased each year with no-till at the 0-5 cm depth. Take-all disease of wheat was most severe in continuous annual winter wheat. The incidence and severity of Rhizoctonia on roots of wheat was highest in the no-till treatments, but there was no grain yield loss due to this disease in any treatment. The annual winter grass weed downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.) was problematic for winter wheat in the standing and mechanically removed stubble, but was controlled in the no-till stubble burned and the burn/plow check. This research was a comprehensive no-till irrigated cropping systems study in the Pacific Northwest.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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