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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pendleton, Oregon » Soil and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #114849

Title: DIRECT SEEDING INFLUENCE ON HYDROLOGY AND STREAM MORPHOLOGY IN DRYLAND CROP AREAS

Author
item Williams, John
item Wuest, Stewart

Submitted to: American Water Resources Association Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/25/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Dryland farming practices are changing from intensive (conventional) cultivation to no-till. These changes are occurring largely as a result of increased fuel and labor costs, and increasingly as one solution for controlling soil erosion to improve soil and water quality. Although much highly erodible land has been entered into CRP, this program was never intended to include more than a small percentage of cropland. The difference between no-till and conventional farming is stark; conventional systems require from two to six passes through the soil with tillage implements that severely disturb the soil, whereas direct seeding can be accomplished in one pass with minimal soil disturbance. In the interior Pacific Northwest on the Columbia Plateau and Palouse croplands, this change will result in diminished soil losses, and potentially influence storm and annual hydrographs of many of the smaller tributaries of the Columbia River. The decreased soil loss will have positive impacts on water quality problems. Changes in the stream flow, in turn, will influence stream rehabilitation efforts, flood plain management and land use. With this paper, we begin to explore the potential consequences resulting from a change to no-till farming practices.

Technical Abstract: Dryland farming practices are changing from intensive (conventional) cultivation to direct seeding. These changes are occurring largely as a result of increased fuel and labor costs, and increasingly as one solution for controlling soil erosion to improve soil and water quality. In the U.S., the only practice that has equal potential to decrease soil erosion and runoff is the conservation reserve program (CRP). Although much highly erodible land has been entered into CRP, it was never intended to include more than a small percentage of land currently being cropped. Direct seeding has the potential for becoming a major, if not primary, farming practice throughout the U.S. The difference between direct seeding and conventional cultivation is stark; conventional systems require from two to six passes through the soil with tillage implements that severely disturb the soil, whereas direct seeding can be accomplished in one pass with minimal soil disturbance. In the interior Pacific Northwest on the Columbia Plateau and Palouse croplands, this change will result in diminished soil losses, and potentially influence storm and annual hydrographs of many of the smaller tributaries of the Columbia River. The decreased soil loss will have positive impacts on water quality problems. Changes in the hydrograph, in turn, will influence stream rehabilitation efforts, flood plain management and land use. With this paper, we begin to explore the potential hydrologic and stream morphologic responses resulting from a change to direct seeding farming practices.