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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #225151

Title: The Undercutter Method of Dryland Wheat Farming to Reduce Wind Erosion in Western United States

item Sharratt, Brenton

Submitted to: Eurosoil Congress
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/29/2008
Publication Date: 8/29/2008
Citation: Schillinger, W.F., D.L. Young, and B.S. Sharratt. 2008. The undercutter method of dryland wheat farming to control wind erosion in the western United States [CD-ROM]. European Society of Soil Science ‘EUROSOIL’ Congress, 25-29 August, Vienna, Austria.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is a major problem in the dryland winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) - 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 emissions during windstorms. Alternatives to traditional intensive tillage during summer fallow were evaluated over a 15-year period at Lind, Washington. The undercutter method of dryland wheat farming employs a wide-blade V-sweep for primary spring tillage plus fertilizer injection, followed by as few as one non-inversion weeding operation. Tillage is reduced from the traditional eight operations to as few as two operations using the undercutter method. Averaged over years, there were never any differences between treatments in precipitation storage efficiency in the soil 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 reduces soil loss and PM10 emissions during high wind events by 15 to 70% compared to traditional tillage practices. Due to the recent surge in the cost of diesel fuel and decline in the cost of glyphosate herbicide, the undercutter method of farming provides significantly higher net returns to farmers compared to traditional tillage. The Federal Government feels so strongly about this farming method that they recently awarded a US$ 1.8 million grant to cost-share undercutter implements with farmers. The undercutter method of dryland wheat farming provides a ‘win-win’ for farmers and the environment.