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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Schillinger, William
item Young, Douglas
item Sharratt, Brenton

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Workshop on Agricultural Air Quality: State of the Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2006
Publication Date: 3/1/2006
Citation: Schillinger, W., Young, D., Sharratt, B. 2006. The Undercutter Method of Summer Fallow Farming to Reduce PM10 Particulate Emissions. Proceedings of a Workshop on Agricultural Air Quality: State of the Science. Potomac, MD. pp. 293-300.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is a major problem in the dryland winter wheat - summer fallow production region of the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington and north-central Oregon. Several locations within the Columbia Plateau have failed to meet federal clean air standards for PM10 (particulates '10µm in diameter) emissions during wind storms. Alternative tillage practices to the traditional intensive tillage during summer fallow were evaluated over a 13-year period at Lind, WA. The undercutter method of summer fallow farming employs a wide-blade V-sweep for primary spring tillage plus fertilizer injection, followed by as few as two non-inversion weeding operations. Tillage is reduced from the traditional eight operations to as few as three operations using the undercutter method. Averaged over years, there were no differences between treatments in precipitation storage efficiency or in wheat grain yield. The undercutter method consistently increased surface residue, surface clod mass, and surface roughness compared to traditional tillage. The undercutter method appears to reduce soil loss and PM10 emissions during high wind events. Due to the recent surge in the cost of diesel fuel and decline in the cost of glyphosate herbicide, the undercutter method of summer fallow farming has significantly higher net returns to the farmer compared to traditional tillage.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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