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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #240079

Title: Preserve CRP Soil Quality by Direct Seeding

item Kennedy, Ann

Submitted to: Washington State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/27/2009
Publication Date: 6/1/2009
Citation: Kennedy, A.C. 2009. Preserve CRP Soil Quality by Direct Seeding. Washington State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: As growers approach the end of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts and return lands to crop production, they are faced with the decision of how to best manage these lands. Direct seed may be a viable option in returning CRP lands to crop production to avoid some of the issues normally associated with the transition from conventional tillage to direct seeding. We assessed changes in soil quality using conservation and conventional practices on lands that were eligible to return to production after ten years of enrollment in CRP. When tillage was used on CRP land, soil quality measurements quickly changed in the first year. For example, soil organic matter fractions, along with pH, declined in conventionally tilled plots compared to CRP grassland. We found that multiple tillage passes also resulted in lower nutrient and water contents; a shift in soil microbial communities away from those found in CRP; decreased water infiltration and an increase in the vulnerability to water and wind erosion . We found that the soil quality of direct seed CRP was similar to the original CRP with respect to pH, soil enzymes, the soil microbial community and organic matter fractions. Direct seeding of crops into CRP lands will preserve the soil quality accrued over the years enrolled in CRP. Direct seed can be used to assist in a smooth transition from CRP to crop production.