Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2003
Publication Date: 11/1/2003
Citation: Thorne, M.E., Young, F.L., Pan, W.L., Bafus, R., Alldredge, J.R. 2003. No-till spring cereal cropping systems reduce wind erosion potential in the wheat/fallow region of the pacific northwest. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 58:250-257
Interpretive Summary: Over 60% of the dryland wheat in the Pacific Northwest is produced in a conventionally tilled winter wheat/dust mulch fallow rotation. Soils of this region are loose-structured and particles are easily suspended by high winds, especially when growers conduct excessive tillage operations on the land. This wind-borne soil erosion is a major air and soil quality issue focusing on health and pollution problems. During a 3-yr transitioning period from wheat/fallow to no-till spring cereal cropping systems, research demonstrated that no-till reduced wind erosion potential by maintaining soil cover of crop residue and/or recently planted crop canopy cover. By adopting no-till spring cropping practices, farmers would stabilize soil surface conditions, minimize soil loss to wind, and improve air quality. Growers of the region would benefit because of improved land stewardship and sustainability and people with respiratory and heart diseases would benefit because of clean air.
Technical Abstract: The dust-mulch fallow phase of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in low-rainfall areas of the Columbia Plateau leaves the soil surface loose-structured and exposed to erosion during high winds common to the region, and is a major source of airborne particulate matter (PM). This research examines no-till spring cropping as an alternative to traditional winter wheat/dust-mulch fallow (WW/F). Surface residue cover (SRC), random roughness (RR), and crop canopy coverage (CC) were measured during a 3-yr transition from WW/F. These measurements were used to calculate soil loss ratios as indices to wind erosion potential. No-till spring cereal rotations reduced erosion potential compared with WW/F by maintaining soil cover during spring and fall when erosion potential is high. Crop CC reduced erosion potential after fall seeding in WW/F and after no-till spring seeding. This research indicates that no-till spring cropping would significantly reduce wind erosion in WW/F areas.