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New 2004 Steep Projects

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, multidisciplinary 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. Twelve research proposals were received for the 2004 funding cycle, totaling over $1,017,792. Eight proposals were selected for a total of $556,250.

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


Title: Expanding Access to PNW Direct Seed and Conservation Tillage Systems Technologies (2 years; $72,046)

Team: Hans Kok, WSU/UI Conservation Tillage Specialist, Pullman/Moscow; Don Wysocki, OSU Extension Soil Scientist, Pendleton
Objective:Increase PNW grower awareness and adaptation of STEEP and related research technologies for direct seed and conservation farming systems by presenting new technologies as integrated components of direct seed and conservation systems in specific agronomic regions, and making the information available through:
    1. PNW STEEP Conservation Tillage Update (newsletter)
    2. PNW Extension Conservation Tillage Handbook Series (distributed through the Update)
    3. Web Site - PNW STEEP Conservation Tillage Systems Technology Source (http://pnwsteep.wsu.edu) which includes publications 1 and 2 above, and many other information resources
    4. PNW Direct Seed List Server (Email/Internet-based)
    5. Northwest Direct Seed Cropping Systems Conferences
    6. Northwest Field Days and Tours


Title: The Role of Alternate Hosts in the Epidemiology of Ascochyta Blight of Chickpea in Reduced Tillage Cropping Systems in the Pacific Northwest (1 year; $55,234)

Team: Tobin Peever1, Lori M. Carris1, and Fred J. Muehlbauer2  
1Department of Plant Pathology, 2USDA-ARS, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Objective:To develop a specific PCR primer to deter and quantify Ascochyta rabiei infection of wheat and other hosts.


Title: ED-STEEP: Education Solutions to Environmental and Economic Problems (1 year; $46,001)

Team: Mark A. Quinn, and Catherine A. Perillo, Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences, WSU
  1. Identification of relevant environmental, health, and agricultural concerns being addressed through the STEEP Program. Identification of specific research outcomes from the STEEP Program. Development of specific lessons and activities for secondary school classrooms that relate to the STEEP Program.
  2. Development of specific activities for post-secondary school classrooms that relate to the STEEP Program. Website development.


Title: Fertilization of Late-Seeded Winter Wheat in Chemical Fallow (3 years; $116,705)

Team: L.K. Lutcher (OSU, Heppner, OR)
Objectives:Develop P and S fertilizer recommendations for the winter wheat/chemical fallow system. Field experiments will be conducted in farmers' fields in Morrow County and Umatilla County, OR, and at the WSU Dryland Research Station at Lind, WA.
  1. Determine if P and/or S should be applied with N. Will the addition of P and/or S increase grain yield, test weights, or grain protein?
  2. Quantify yield components and straw production
  3. Determine early-season tissue nutrient concentrations and plant uptake
  4. Evaluate early-season soil nutrient bioavailability and effects of seed-zone water content and temperature. Sampling and analysis procedures will provide information about nutrient flux to the roots and mechanisms responsible for observed differences. Nutrient flux data will be used in conjunction with plant uptake data to explain treatment effects among sites.
  5. Site characterization: Characterization data will be used to delineate regions where future recommendations can be utilized. The data also will be used to develop an understanding of differences in the bioavailability of P and S among sites.


Title: Impact of Crop Rotation and Alternative Crops on Weed Populations, Yield, and Economics in Direct Seed Systems in the Intermediate Rainfall Area of Washington (3 years, $70,841)

Team: Dennis Tonks, WSU Extension Dryland Farming Specialist, Davenport; Aaron Esser, WSU Extension On-Farm Testing Associate, Ritzville; For the Agricultural Horizons Team
  1. Evaluate the impact of various crop rotations on yield, weed populations, disease, soil quality, and profitability
  2. Evaluate the impact of alternative crops on establishment, growth, yield, and economics of winter wheat and spring cereals.


Title: The Strategic Use of Broadcast and Controlled Release Fertilizer to Facilitate N Applications and Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Direct Seed Systems (3 years, $77,855)

Team: Richard T. Koenig, Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences, WSU; David R. Huggins, USDA-ARS, Pullman, WA
  1. Determine whether early- or late-fall broadcast of conventional or controlled release N fertilizers can replace deep banding and/or spring broadcast applications.
  2. Assess the feasibility of replacing deep banded conventional N fertilizer with seed banded controlled release fertilizer.
  3. Evaluate select N timing and placement strategies in the context of a typical Palouse toposequence (assess the N treatment by landscape position interaction).


Title: Assessing the Impact of Direct Seeding (No-Till) and Conventional-Till on Crop, Variety, Soil, and Insect Responses in Year 4 (1 year, $48,008)

Team: Stephen O. Guy, Professor and Crop Management Specialist, UI; Nilsa A. Bosque-Perez, Associate Professor of Entomology, UI; Sanford D. Eigenbrode, Associate Professor of Entomology, UI; Jodi Johnson-Maynard, Assistant Professor of Soil Science, UI
  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 and lentil during year four of the 'transition period'.
  2. Determine the impact of CT and NT on soil microclimate and fauna and document changes in key soil hydraulic and chemical properties.
  3. Monitor pea leaf weevil abundance, activity and damage in CT and NT pea.
  4. Conduct controlled experiments in the laboratory and field trials to assess predation by specific ground-dwelling predators on pea leaf weevil.


Title: Improving Tillage Systems for Minimizing Erosion (1 year, $62,560)

Team: Jan Boll, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, UI; Shulin Chen, Professor of Biological Systems Engineering, WSU; Donald McCool, Agricultural Engineer and Research Scientist, USDA-ARS, Pullman, WA
  1. Investigating the difference in infiltration and runoff generation mechanisms under different tillage systems (minimum tillage and conventional tillage) (UI).
  2. Studying the impact of major field factors on rill/gully formation under different tillage systems (WSU).
  3. Developing a GIS database and recommending management practices that can be implemented to reduce rill/gully formation and erosion (UI and WSU)

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