Participants in mutually beneficial monitoring and research efforts that include individual producers and governmental agencies. Agency participation includes:
- Umatilla Soil and Water Conservation District
- Oregon Department of Agriculture
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
- Oregon Department of Water Resources
- Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Cultivation of the cool-season grass prairie and shrub-steppe on the Columbia Plateau, a mixed Mediterranean/frozen soil region, began in the 1880's. This semi-arid region is characterized by very fertile, highly erodible silt-loam soils, developed on steep slopes over Miocene basalts. Early farming practices led to excessive soil loss. Sixty years of soil and water conservation efforts have slowed soil loss from fields and promises to provide nearly 100 per cent soil and water conservation. Hydrological research at CPCRC traditionally used small plot research to answer questions concerning infiltration, overland flow, and soil erosion processes. Since 1995, hydrological and soil conservation projects have been initiated to evaluate cropping practices influence on infield and upland drainage processes, channel initiation and development, sediment transport, and stream-water quality. These projects provide a substantive metric showing the efficacy of soil and water conservation efforts to date and provide data to model a range of management options in the future, from new residue management systems to incorporation of biofuel feedstock, such as oil seeds, into these systems.
Snow Capture in Winter Wheat Stubble - High Cut vs. Baled and Removed
In Pacific Northwest USA regions under low annual precipitation, dryland producers often practice a two-year wheat-fallow rotation. The fallow, or unplanted, period is used to store water for the subsequent crop. Stewart Wuest, a Soil Scientist with the USDA-ARS in Pendleton Oregon, is investigating how the post-harvest management of wheat stubble affects precipitation capture and water storage in no-tillage cropping systems in the low (<9 inches) and intermediate (16-18 inches) precipitation regions. Time-lapse cameras were used to monitor snow capture in research plots in wheat stubble that was either cut high and retained standing or cut low, baled, and removed. A high wind event tested the method of stubble management to capture and preserve blowing snow. Researchers will use this information to identify crop management practices that increase the productivity, economic sustainability, and resiliency of dryland wheat production under water limitation.