Sign up for email alerts of new Fluid Journal issues!
Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 1996-1998
1 Fluid Journal Winter 1996 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 Yield - bu/A Root-Diseased Soil Fumigant Soil Between Below Alternate Row Rows Figure 1. Effect of fumigated soil (vs. soil with root disease) on spring wheat yield, comparing two placement methods, Pullman, WA 1990. Summary: Western crop residue management matches the success of other regions in erosion control and water conservation, yet remains different in practical appli\cation due to crop rotations, climate and irrigation. This underscores the role of the site specific approach in modern fanning, particularly with the advent of watershed and ecosystem management concepts. Crop residue management practices, fur example, are an excellent companion to riparian filter strips; but what works in the eastern U.S. may have little practical relevance to the arid regions of the West, and vice versa. The key to reaping substantial economic and environmental benefits for growers and dealers has been by learning how to successfully implement crop residue management as an integrated system under the varied conditions of the West. Coupled with some excellent research and extension resources, ample opportunities remain for enterprising farmers and their dealers. According to the Conservation Technology Information Center, crop residue management is practiced on over 60 percent of the planted acres in the United States. Crop residue techniques include true conservation tillage (over 30 percent of soil surface covered by residue after planting) such as zone-till, no-till, ridge-till, and mulch-till. Other reduced tillage types that leave between 15 and 30 percent residue after planting also count as crop residue management. Residue management has steadily increased across U.S. farmland since the early 1980s. Though this trend includes western regions of the country, peculiarities of climate, cropping, and water management have presented a variety of crop residue Dr. Julian Smith Residue Management In West Problems peculiar to region provide a host of challenges to western conservation tillage growers. management challenges for western growers and dealers. Crop profile. True conservation tillage, notably no-till and ridge-till, predominates in the corn/bean cropping systems of the eastern and Midwestern U.S. In the western U.S., there is a transition to mulch-till and other reduced tillage forms of crop residue management, reflecting the predominance of small grains and row crops (such as potatoes and sugar beets) in western crop rotations. Western crop residue management, therefore, is different from that of the Corn Belt, yet it is effective. Erosion. Crop residue management practices are extremely effective in reducing water erosion and runoff, and wind erosion of agricultural lands. In the drier regions of North America, improved moisture storage is an important additional benefit. The efficacy of western reduced tillage practices, however, is well documented by data of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). According to area agronomist for the NRCS in Idaho, Carrie Smith, the state is on or ahead of schedule in executing conservation plans for Idaho's most erodible cropland. The NRCS estimates that when Idaho conservation plans are in place, erosion on highly erodible lands will be reduced by over two- thirds--- from an estimated 18.1 tons/A prior to the Farm Bill to 5 tons/A annually. Clearly, growers are making tremendous progress in reducing soil erosion. As might be anticipated, gradual changes in farming practices have been minored by sound research and development in both public and private sectors. Adaptability. That the western U.S. residue management programs are different from well documented Corn Belt systems is well demonstrated by dealer experience in Idaho. The famous potato crop predominates in the fertile, irrigated Snake River plain. At the eastern edge of the plain, dryland grain is the crop in the foothills of the western Rockies to altitudes of 6,000 feet. Brian Davis, unit manager for Simplot, services both dryland and irrigated producers in the area. He has noted a continual growth in crop residue management practices that started with dryland grain crops in the early l980s. Growers appear to be adapting dryland conservation practices to irrigated crops. Most problems, he explains, seem to be associated with the levels of residue under irrigation. Differences in residue from a 20- to 40-bu/A dryland grain
Fluid Journal 1993-1995
Fluid Journal 1999-2001