Submitted to: Pendleton Station Field Day
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/3/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Selecting conservation systems for highly erodible land has been a difficult task because of soil, weather and crop variability from field to field. Planning farming systems for soil conservation can now be aided with personal computers. A computer program called RUSLE developed by ARS is available from the Soil and Water Conservation Society. This program predicts average annual soil loss based on site specific data inputs such as rain fall, cropping system, soil type and slope steepness. Four tillage and crop residue management systems were compared for soil erosion control using RUSLE. A new residue management system was found to provide erosion control that was as good as one of the best tillage systems available today. The new system has improved mechanical weed control over present conservation tillage systems.
Technical Abstract: The Food Security Act of the 1985 and 1990 Farm Bills required conservation planning for highly erodible land (HEL). Selection of tillage and residue management systems to provide adequate erosion control for HEL land has been based on an empirical equation called USLE (Universal Soil Loss Equation). USLE predicts average annual soil loss. RUSLE is an updated and improved version that is available for personal computers. RUSLE was used to compare the soil erosion control potential of a new tillage and residue management system. The predicted average annual soil loss was 1.9, 2.0 and 6.4 tons per acre per year for chisel plowing based system, new system and moldboard plowing system in northeastern Oregon, respectively. This new system retains mechanical weed control benefits associated with moldboard plowing.