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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research

2009 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The goal of this research project is to identify cultural practices and technologies that improve economic viability and environmental sustainability of inland PNW dryland wheat production systems. The specific objectives are fourfold and include: Objective 1: Develop cropping practices for improving crop water use in dryland production systems and landscapes across PNW agroecological zones. (Pullman all of Obj 1) Sub-objective 1A: Optimize crop establishment practices and crop water use for improving the performance of winter canola. Sub-objective 1B: Improve stand establishment methods for spring canola to minimize weed competition and increase crop water use. Sub-objective 1C: Contrast fall-planted facultative wheat and spring-planted wheat for abilities to suppress weeds and increase yield, profitability, and crop water use. Sub-objective 1D: Determine effects of Russian thistle on crop water use, and production costs and quality of forage spring triticale. Objective 2: Evaluate cropping system diversification strategies (forage and biofuels) for increasing agronomic performance of agricultural landscapes across PNW agroecological zones. Sub-objective 2A: Determine productivity and profitability of integrating alternative forage and biofuel crops into wheat-based production systems. (Pullman) Sub-objective 2B: Determine production potential of perennial biofuel and forage crops incorporated as riparian buffers in agricultural landscapes. (Pendleton and Pullman) Objective 3: Assess how new optical light reflectance spectrometers (advanced technology) can be used to increase cropping system performance in agricultural landscapes. (Pendleton – all of Obj 3) Sub-objective 3A: Apply information from on-combine yield monitors and optical sensors into site-specific nitrogen (N) application thereby improving grain quality and yield, and N use efficiency of cereal crops. Sub-objective 3B: Assess the quantity and quality of wheat residue at site-specific field locations across farm fields. Sub-objective 3C: Measure and map determinants of grain quality value (i.e. test weight, protein concentration, and foreign weed material), and apply this information into grain segregation on a combine harvester. Objective 4: Synthesize available crop and cropping systems research across PNW agro-ecological zones to assess biophysical production factors influencing cropping system performance and ecosystem services. Sub-objective 4A: Compile and summarize existing databases of dryland crops and cropping systems to calibrate and corroborate process-oriented models. (Pendleton) Sub-objective 4B: Utilize existing datasets and process-oriented models to spatially evaluate the suitability of past, present, and future cropping system strategies. (Pullman) NP216 Cross-location project associated with Pendleton, OR 5356-13210-003-00D (Long).

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
1A&B. Several multi-year field studies will be conducted in numerous locations in the low to intermediate rainfall zones to evaluate seeding date, rate, and methodologies for winter and spring canola in order to improve crop establishment. Data collected include seed-zone water, soil profile water storage, weed populations, crop yield, and oil and meal content. 1C. A multi-year study will be conducted in the high-rainfall zone to compare grain yield and wild oat suppressive ability of facultative wheat planted in late fall with that planted in April/May the following spring. Within each time of planting, wheat will be grown non-treated or treated with recommended or half the recommended rate of a wild oat herbicide. Wild oat population and seed production will be measured prior to grain harvest and crop yield and quality (dockage) will be determined. Consumptive water use will be determined with gravimetric soil profile samples before planting and after harvest. 1D. Spring forage triticale will be planted in a naturally infested field of Russian thistle in a 2 to 3-year study. Half the plots will be sprayed with a herbicide to control Russian thistle and the weed will be allowed to grow in the remaining plots. Forage quality of the triticale will be analyzed with and without the weed and the total weed and crop biomass will be weighed. Total systems production costs will be determined and crop water use will be calculated. 2A. Two long term field experiments will be conducted to compare diversified cropping systems to current wheat cropping systems employed by growers in the intermediate and high rainfall zones. In the high rainfall zone, the diversified 3-yr rotation of tall winter wheat, spring canola, and forage winter triticale will be compared to a rotation of winter wheat, spring barley and spring pea. In the intermediate rainfall zone, the diversified rotation of forage winter triticale, spring canola, and fallow will be compared to the current winter wheat, spring barley, and fallow rotation. Crop yield and economic inputs will be recorded and economic and risk analyses will be conducted. At each location, the crop rotations will be grown for at least two cycles. 4B. Specific themes will be defined that can be flexibly used to derive Agroecological Zones (AEZ) based on criteria that are relevant to the question asked. Three basic steps to design and develop relevant AEZ will be used: 1) Generate raster surfaces of biophysical and socio-economic variables through spatial interpolation of data; 2) Generate a spatial framework of AEZ by combining basic raster themes into more integrated variables; and 3) Characterize spatial units in terms of relevant themes such as zones separating commonly practiced cropping systems. After AEZ development, model calibration, and long-term field studies synthesis, what-if scenarios will be developed and current and future cropping systems will be evaluated. In collaboration with scientists directly involved with specific modeling we will apply calibrated models to long-term data sets to corroborate these models under a wide-range of regional conditions. Replacing 5348-22610-002-00D 09/11/08.

3. Progress Report
The following components of experiments from our previous NP207 project plan were concluded: collecting data on jointed goatgrass resistance to imazamox, data analysis of using imazamox-resistant winter wheat to manage jointed goatgrass, and data analysis of managing jointed goatgrass population using tillage and spring wheat. Fiscal year 2009 represented the first year of research on our NP216 project plan “Increasing Inland Pacific Northwest Wheat Production Profitability.” In the low rainfall region, a joint study with Pendleton, OR was initiated to evaluate the effect of different drill openers on the population, yield, and quality of spring canola. Preliminary experiments were also conducted to evaluate different rates, dates and planting methods on winter canola establishment and production. Based on preliminary experiments, a new study was initiated under Objective 1A to evaluate the effect of primary tillages on depth of soil moisture during summer-fallow.

4. Accomplishments
1. Opportunities and partnerships for producing winter canola in the Colville Confederated Tribe (CCT) region. The CCT has the unique advantage of having an infrastructure that can turn oil seed into biodiesel for school buses and logging trucks as well as protein meal for livestock. The Tribe and area growers, however, lack the experience to produce biofuel crops. A partnership has been established with the CCT whereby sustainable agronomic practices will be developed for growing oil seed crops. ARS scientists at Pullman, WA have established studies in cooperation with the CCT to investigate the influence of planting methods on the production of winter canola. These studies will enable the CCT and area growers to successfully grow canola for biodiesel.

5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
An ARS scientist organized and presented a winter canola field day in Okanogan and Bridgeport, WA. Attendees included members and the energy chairman of the Colville Confederated Tribe. ARS scientists participated in Science Day at the Pascal Sherman and Nespelem tribal schools and surrounding community schools. An ARS scientist presented a talk on winter canola and biofuels and gave and a demonstration of the oil seed crusher at the Colville Confederated Tribe/WSU Extension Bioenergy Day. Numerous CCT council and tribal members attended. An ARS scientist was invited to present a proposal for oil seed crop research to the Colville Confederated Tribe council, energy commission, community development and planning committee, natural resource committee, and other interested CCT members. An ARS scientist presented an invited talk to the Umatilla Confederated Tribes on the partnerships we have established with the Colville Confederated Tribe. Attendees included several tribal members, the Umatilla Tribe’s farm manager for agriculture lands and USDA-ARS and NRCS personnel.

Review Publications
Young, F.L., Bewick, L.S., Pan, W.L. 2008. Systems Approach to Crop Rotation Research: Guidelines and Challenges. pp 41-70. In Crop Rotation. ed. Berklain, Y.U. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York.

Last Modified: 06/21/2017
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