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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #368199

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Critical standing crop residue amounts for wind erosion control in the inland Pacific Northwest, USA

Author
item PI, HUAWEI - Washington State University
item WEBB, NICHOLAS - New Mexico State University
item Huggins, David
item Sharratt, Brenton

Submitted to: Catena
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/5/2020
Publication Date: 6/22/2020
Citation: Pi, H., Webb, N., Huggins, D.R., Sharratt, B.S. 2020. Critical standing crop residue amounts for wind erosion control in the inland Pacific Northwest, USA. Catena. 195:104742. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2020.104742.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2020.104742

Interpretive Summary: Crop residue is the plant material left in an agricultural field after a crop has been harvested. Establishing soil surface protection afforded by standing crop residue is needed for producers seeking to manage wind erosion. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effect of standing residue on wind erosion in the inland Pacific Northwest (iPNW), USA, and test the performance of two wind erosion models (APEX and RWEQ) in representing residue effects on soil loss. The effect of standing winter wheat, spring canola, and garbanzo residue on wind erosion, remaining from major commodity crops in the region, was tested in a wind tunnel using four levels of residue density. The impact of standing residue in controlling wind erosion was compared. Our results show that residue at a density characteristic of the production environment (110 plants m-1 for winter wheat, 20 plants m-1 for canola, and 16 plants m-1 for garbanzo bean) provided significant protection to the soil surface from wind erosion. Soil loss at this level of residue density was reduced by 73.3, 53.4, and 60.9% for respectively winter wheat, spring canola, and garbanzo (frontal area indexes are 0.172, 0.104, and 0.026 respectively) compared with a surface without residue. The APEX model adequately simulated winter wheat and spring canola residue protection but had low accuracy in representing garbanzo residue effects relative to the wind tunnel experiments. In contrast, the RWEQ model appeared inadequate in simulating soil loss for the winter wheat and canola treatments but adequately represented garbanzo residue effects. Differences in model accuracy for different crop types must be considered by producers and managers to determine whether model information used to select practices to control wind erosion are likely to result in under- or over-protection of soil resources.

Technical Abstract: Crop residue is an important factor influencing wind erosion of cultivated soils. Establishing soil surface protection afforded by standing crop residue is critical for land managers seeking to reduce or prevent soil loss by wind erosion and the impacts of blowing dust from agricultural lands. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effect of standing residue on soil wind erosion in the inland Pacific Northwest (iPNW), USA, and test the performance of the plant factor algorithm of the Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) and Revised Wind Erosion Equation (RWEQ) models in influencing soil loss. The effect of standing winter wheat, spring canola, and garbanzo residue on wind erosion, remaining from major commodity crops in the region, was tested in a wind tunnel using four levels of residue density. The impact of standing residue in controlling wind erosion was compared and analyzed in terms of residue density and their respective frontal area index. Our results show that residue at a density characteristic of the production environment (110 plants m-1 for winter wheat, 20 plants m-1 for canola, and 16 plants m-1 for garbanzo bean) provided significant protection to the soil surface from wind erosion. Soil loss at this level of residue density was reduced by 73.3, 53.4, and 60.9% for respectively winter wheat, spring canola, and garbanzo (frontal area indexes are 0.172, 0.104, and 0.026 respectively) compared with a surface without residue. The soil surface was found to be at significant risk from wind erosion when residue densities of the three crop types were <50% of the typical production amounts. Although not consistently significant, soil loss decreased as wind direction shifted from parallel to perpendicular with the standing residue row. The APEX model adequately simulated winter wheat and spring canola residue protection but had low accuracy in representing garbanzo residue effects relative to the wind tunnel experiments. In contrast, the RWEQ model appeared inadequate in simulating soil loss for the winter wheat and canola treatments but adequately represented garbanzo residue effects. Differences in model accuracy for different crop types must be considered by producers and managers to determine whether model information used to select practices to control wind erosion are likely to result in under- or over-protection of soil resources.