Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Objective 1: Identify optimal strategies for incorporating bioenergy crops into irrigated Pacific Northwest Region cropping systems. • Sub-objective 1.A. Evaluate the impacts of harvest of C3 and C4 grass perennial biomass crops and the removal of crop residues on carbon sequestration, nutrient dynamics, and soil quality in irrigated Pacific Northwest crop rotations. • Sub-objective 1.B. Determine the efficacy of co-products from agricultural-based energy production on weed and disease control and soil fertility improvement in irrigated crop production systems. Objective 2. Identify optimal combinations of management practices to lower total production costs while maintaining market quality of irrigated potato-based production systems. • Sub-objective 2.A. Determine the impact of reduced tillage on soil conservation/erosion soil physical properties, the mechanisms controlling carbon and nitrogen cycling, and trace gas (CO2, N2O, CH4) fluxes and C sequestration and the yield and quality response of potato and rotational crops. • Sub-objective 2.B. Evaluate the effects of deficit irrigation practices on potato yield and tuber quality. • Sub-objective 2.C. Validate the ARS Potato Growth Simulation Model for the irrigated inland Pacific Northwest region. Objective 3. Develop ecologically-based management strategies that enhance vegetable yields and soil quality in irrigated organic production systems. • Sub-objective 3.A. Quantify key soil agroecological processes (carbon and nitrogen cycling) and application rates of organic amendments that optimize physiological development (nitrogen capture, plant growth rate) of potato under irrigated organic cropping systems. • Sub-objective 3.B. Integrate hybrids with weed suppressive traits into organic specialty crop production systems.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Long-term sustainability of potato production in the Pacific Northwest will depend not only on balancing the physiological production requirements, but also overcoming additional constraints to system productivity and profitability. Assessing sustainability and the basic interactions among system components are multifaceted tasks that require long-term studies integrating a multidisciplinary approach to understand system constraints and also provide data needed to support evaluation of impacts of specialty crops by system modelers. Improved cropping systems will be developed that reduce erosion, reclaim excess N, build organic matter, and suppress pests and improve soil and environmental quality and economic viability. Application of conservation tillage to specialty cropping systems will be investigated to evaluate improving environmental, biological and economic sustainability. With the expansion of the bioenergy industry in the U.S. and state and regional mandates for biofuel blending have made biofuels a high priority issue for the USDA. The expansion of the biofuel industry on potato and other specialty crop production will be investigated. The projected growth of the ethanol and biodiesel industries in the PNW will produce large quantities of organic-based co-products. These co-products are much greater than what can be utilized locally as a source of animal feed, so alternative value added uses will be investigated. The use of these co-products could be used to offset the high costs of nutritional and pest control requirements of potato and specialty crops. The demand for organic produce continues to expand and is of increasing interest to PNW growers. Managing weeds and providing adequate nutrients are the two major production issues for organic producers. Economical and environmentally friendly solutions are needed for organic producers to increase production efficiency by management of weeds and nutrients. Formerly 5354-21660-001-00D (8.08).

3. Progress Report
Measurements of above- and below-ground productivity, nutrient export, and C sequestration were made using a combination of field and laboratory studies. Measures of C-sequestration potential by laboratory incubations and 13C analyses were completed for both 2008 and 2009 soil samplings. A field trial evaluating the application of agricultural-based energy co-products (e.g. oil-seed meals, distillers grains, anaerobic digested dairy manures) to reduce the application of synthetic fertilizers was established at the USDA-ARS Field Station in Paterson WA. Second year assessments of the soil nutrient, potato quality and efficacy of each bioenergy co-products are being analyzed. Field trials evaluating weed suppression in organic onions with Sinapis alba seed meal were completed. Sweet corn hybrids differing in weed tolerance and weed suppressive ability are being evaluated among two levels of cultivation in a second year field trial. The influence of biochar on herbicide activity of atrazine and metribuzin was tested using greenhouse oat bioassays. Completed measurements of wind erosion and dust (i.e. PM10) emissions under the reduced and conventional tillage and crop. The studies of greenhouse gas production have been completed and peer-reviewed manuscript published. The field research on the effects of deficit irrigation practices on potato yield and tuber quality has been completed and analyses of data from the field trials are in progress. Potato and corn field experiments under different nutrient management are in progress. Plant samplings are taken at various growth stages for measurement of biomass and nutrients accumulation and partitioning. These data will be used for field validation of crop simulation models.

4. Accomplishments

5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Presented a talk at the 2010 Yakama Nation: Roots for Productivity Workshop in Toppenish, WA. The talk described methods and technologies to increase and improve soil fertility and the quality of soil organic matter. The annual meeting was attended by 60 farmers, crop consultants and researchers from throughout the Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin of Washington and covers a wide variety of specialty crop production issues.

Review Publications
Paramasivam, S., Richards, K.A., Alva, A.K., Sajwan, K.S., Afolabi, J., Richards, A.M. 2009. Evaluation of Poultry Litter Amendment to Agricultural Soils: Leaching Losses and Partitioning of Trace Elements in Collard Greens. Journal Of Water Air And Soil Pollution. 202: 229-243.

Alva, A.K., Marcos, J., Stockle, C., Reddy, V., Timlin, D.J. 2010. A Crop Simulation Model for Prediction of Yield and Fate of Nitrogen in Irrigated Potato Rotation Cropping System. Journal of Crop Improvement. 24: 142-152.

Paramasivam, S., Jayaraman, K., Wilson, T.C., Alva, A.K., Kelson, L., Jones, L.B. 2009. Ammonia Volatilization Loss from Surface Applied Livestock Manure. Journal of Environmental Science and Health. 44: 317-324.

Alva, A.K. 2010. Techniques to Enhancing Sustainable Nutrient and Irrigation Management for Potatoes. Journal of Crop Improvement. 24:281-297.

Macconnell, C.B., Collins, H.P. 2009. Utilization of Re-processed Anaerobically Digested Fiber from Dairy Manure as a Container Media Substrate. Acta Horticulturae. 819: 279-286.

Wang, Q., Li, Y., Alva, A.K. 2010. Growing Cover Crops Improve Biomass Accumulation and Carbon Sequestration: A Phytotron Study. Journal of Environmental Protection. 1: 73-84.

Moore, A.D., Alva, A.K., Collins, H.P., Boydston, R.A. 2010. Mineralization of nitrogen from biofuel byproducts and animal manures amended to a sandy soil. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 41:1315-1326.

Young, S.L., Pierce, F.J., Streubel, J.D., Collins, H.P. 2009. Performance of solid-state sensors for continuous, real-time measurement of soil CO2 concentrations. Agronomy Journal. 101:1417-1420.

Stockle, C.O., Nelson, R.L., Higgins, S., Brunner, J., Grove, G., Boydston, R.A., Whiting, M., Kruger, C. 2010. Assessment of climate change impact on Eastern Washington agriculture. Climatic Change. Available:

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page