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New 2001 STEEP Projects

Roger Veseth, WSU/UI Extension Conservation Tillage Specialist, Moscow; Donn Thill, UI Weed Scientist, Moscow; David Bezdicek, WSU Soil Microbiologist, Pullman

STEEP (Solutions To Environmental and Economic Problems) is a cooperative Pacific Northwest research and educational program on conservation tillage systems through the University of Idaho, Oregon State University, Washington State University, and USDA-Agricultural Research Service. It has been a national model for multi-state, multi-disciplinary efforts among land grant universities, USDA-agencies, grower commodity organizations, conservation districts, and other Ag support groups and agencies to work collectively to solve regional environmental and economic problems. Funding has been provided by special Congressional grants through USDA since 1975.

The STEEP program is managed through three committees. These include: 1) a 10-member Technical Coordinating Committee of scientists from the three universities and USDA-ARS; 2) a 7-member Industry Advisory Committee of 2 growers from each state representing the grain producer and conservation district associations, and one from the pulse crop industry; and 3) an 8-member Administrative Committee representing research and extension at the 3 universities, the USDA-ARS and USDA-NRCS.

Each year, the STEEP program invites proposals on research and education projects on cropping systems technologies for direct seeding and other conservation tillage systems. Projects can be funded for 3 years with the possibility of continuing funding in the future. This longer-term funding has been critical for conducting cropping systems research projects. Eleven research proposals were received for the 2001 funding cycle, totaling over $937,000. Six proposals were selected for a total of $468,000.

The following is a listing of the new STEEP project titles (and durations), investigators, and objectives of each project.

Title: Seed Placed Lime to Reduce the Acidifying Affects of nitrogen Fertilizer in Long-Term Direct Seed Systems (3-year project)

Co-Investigators: Greg Schwab, WSU Extension Soil Scientist; Jim Harsh, WSU Soil Chemist; and David Huggins, USDA-ARS Soil Scientist, all at Pullman, WA; working with 4 collaborating WSU scientists and 2 Washington growers


1) Assess the effects of seed placed lime and fertilizer on seed zone PH and exchangeable aluminum using direct seed planting methods.
2) Determine the effects of lime source and starter fertilizer source on dry matter accumulation, early season nutrient uptake, grain yield and grain protein.
3) Evaluate the long-term effects of soil pH and plant growth of applying low rates of pelletized lime in combination with acid form or pH neutral starter fertilizers using two direct seed rotations.

Title: Assessing the Impact of No-Till (NT) and Conventional-Till (CT) on Crop, Variety, Soil, Insect and Disease Response (3-year project)

Lead Investigator: Stephen Guy, University of Idaho Crop Management Specialist at Moscow, working with a team of 4 other UI scientists


1) Evaluate crop and variety performance differences between NT and CT production systems in a replicated tillage trial for winter wheat, spring barley, spring wheat and dry pea in a 3-year winter wheat - spring cereal - spring pea rotation.
2) Determine changes in soil organic matter quantity and quality in NT and CT systems on different landscape positions.
3) Determine the impacts of NT and CT on soil fauna and document changes in total porosity and pore size distribution on different landscape positions.
4) Evaluate incidence and severity of insect pests and their natural enemies on wheat, barley and pea grown under NT and CT systems.
5) Evaluate root diseases incidence and severity of Rhizoctonia root rot, Fusarium species, and Pseudocercosporella foot rot in winter and spring wheat and barley under NT and CT, and correlate disease with soil organic matter, pore size distribution and landscape position.

Title: Vegetation Management with Herbicides Between Crops and During Fallow in Direct Seed Dryland Winter Wheat Cropping Systems (3-year project)

Project Investigators: Joe Yenish, WSU Extension Weed Specialist, Pullman; Dan Ball, OSU Weed Scientist, Pendleton; and Donn Thill, UI Weed Scientist, Moscow


1) Determine the effect of four glyphosate herbicide formulations, applied at several rates with and without ammonium sulfate, on control of volunteer winter wheat and weeds in direct seed systems between harvest and spring planting or through the spring portion of the summer fallow period.
2) Determine the effect of glyphosate and paraquat + diuron, applied sequentially during the fall and / or early spring at different rate combinations, on control of volunteer winter wheat and weeds in direct seed systems between harvest and spring planting or through the spring portion of the summer fallow period.
3) Provide economic comparison of the vegetative management systems.
4) Disseminate information to growers via field representatives, extension educators, field tours and popular publications, and to scientific audiences via publications and presentations.

Title: Development of Residue Manipulation Systems for Direct Seeding Drills to Improve Seed Opener Performance (First year of multi-year project)

Lead Investigator: Eric Drews, UI Agricultural Engineer at Moscow, working with 2 collaborating UI scientists and an advisory group of over 6 representatives from the universities, grower organizations and the Ag service industry


1) Form an advisory group to guide the research effort.
2) Build prototype residue management devices.
3) Build a 3 seeding-unit test drill and install the selected residue management system.
4) Evaluate the residue management system in a range of residue conditions.

Title: Updating Statistical Analysis Software for On-Farm Testing (1.5 year project)

Lead Investigator: Russ Karow, OSU Extension Agronomist, Corvallis; working with a team of 10 collaborating PNW scientists


Update the current AGSTATS statistical computer software to a more flexible, Windows-based program for use by those inexperienced with statistics to do their own scientific analyses of simple field experiments.

Title: No-Till Sowing into Standing Irrigated Stubble Instead of Burning (6-year project)

Lead Investigator: William Schillinger, Dryland Research Agronomist at the WSU Dryland Research Station near Lind; working with 6 collaborating NW scientists and a 5-member grower advisory group

Objectives: The objective of this 6-year project is to determine the feasibility of direct seeding into high levels of residue as a substitute for burning after winter wheat harvest in irrigated cropping systems. Specific objectives are to:

1) Test a 3-year crop rotation of winter wheat - winter Canola - spring barley direct seeded with a Cross-slot no-till drill in three residue management treatments after winter wheat: standing stubble; mechanical removal of stubble; and burning. An additional treatment of annual winter wheat sown after stubble burning + moldboard plowing will be included as the conventional check system.
2) Evaluate and develop effective techniques for planting into heavy surface stubble using no-till methods.
3) Document cumulative effects of a diverse no-till crop rotation under three winter wheat stubble management practices on soil physical and biological properties, water use efficiency, disease, weed ecology, and economics, and compare these effects to those under the check treatment of continuous winter wheat with stubble burning + moldboard plowing.
4) Extend the research results to growers, agricultural support personnel and scientists.


Contact us: Hans Kok, (208)885-5971 | Accessibility | Copyright | Policies | WebStats | STEEP Acknowledgement
Hans Kok, WSU/UI Extension Conservation Tillage Specialist, UI Ag Science 231, PO Box 442339, Moscow, ID 83844 USA
Redesigned by Leila Styer, CAHE Computer Resource Unit; Maintained by Debbie Marsh, Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences, WSU