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PNW STEEP II EXTENSION

CONSERVATION FARMING UPDATE - MAY1996



-- Returning CRP to Crop Production --

A Preliminary Management Resource Guide and Review of Research in 1996

Authors: Roger Veseth, WSU/UI Conservation Tillage Specialist, Moscow, ID; Baird Miller, WSU Agronomist; Tim Fiez, WSU Soil Fertility Specialist; Tim Walters, WSU Graduate Student; Pullman, WA; and Harry Schafer, WSU Research Technician, Ritzville, WA.

A Washington State University research project was initiated in 1994 to evaluate management strategies for returning Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to crop production. A preliminary research summary was published in March 1996 as WSU Cooperative Extension Crop and Soil Sciences Dept. Technical Report 96-2. It provides an in depth description of the field trials and results available to that time. The trials will be completed in 1996 and results published in early fall.

The project goal is to identify management strategies that optimize agronomic performance and profitability of the first crops following CRP take-out, while providing effective soil erosion control, and preservation of soil improvements gained during CRP. There are two primary research thrusts in this statewide project: 1) evaluate management strategies for returning CRP land to winter wheat production following a summer fallow period; and 2) evaluate management strategies for returning CRP land to spring crop production. Additional research efforts focus on fertility management in CRP take-out, herbicide application rates and timings for killing CRP grass, changes in soil quality under different take-out systems, and economics of management options.

Planning and management of the trials with field scale equipment directly involve 13 grower cooperators, as well as more than 20 other scientists and Ag support personnel in the region. This research project is funded in part by two grant programs from the USDA Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES): STEEP II (Solutions To Environmental and Economic Problems) and the Columbia Plateau Wind Erosion/Air Quality Project.

CRP Background
The Pacific Northwest has more than 2.5 million acres of cropland in CRP. In Washington State there is over 1.045 million acres. This represents nearly 14% of the 7.6 million acres in a 20 county area of eastern Washington. More than 70% of the CRP acres under contract are scheduled to expire by the fall of 1997. In addition, growers now have an early release option on CRP contracts underway for at least 5 years, allowing them to participate in the 7-year Farm Bill payment program on crop base acreage in the CRP contract.

A majority of the CRP land in Washington and the Northwest is in the low rainfall, winter wheatsummer fallow regions. These regions typically receives from 7 to 14 inches annual precipitation and are commonly vulnerable to wind erosion. Crested wheatgrass is the predominant CRP grass. Serious soil erosion problems could result if intensive tillage and residue removal practices are used in returning CRP land to crop production. Prior to this project, only limited research has been conducted on converting perennial grass cover to crop production in these dryland regions. Conservation tillage technologies have also changed dramatically over the last 20 years. A research knowledge base is needed to evaluate the profitability of different management strategies for returning CRP land to crop production, and their effectiveness of erosion control and preserving soil benefits gained during CRP.

Overview of Field Trials Established in 1994 and 1995


Seven large-scale on-farm trials for evaluating CRP take-out were established in 1994 and 1995, but only three with spring crops have been harvested. Most trials include 4-5 tillage and residue management systems or “treatments” that result in a range in surface residue and roughness levels.

This field research project uses large, replicated experiments with farmscale equipment operated by growers. This approach increases grower confidence in the research results and facilitates rapid grower adaptation of research results. Treatment area for each plot is generally 30 to 50 feet wide and 800 to 1,000 feet long, depending on the implements used and field size. Each treatment is replicated four times. Trials are generally 15 to 35 acres in size.

In cooperation with other university and industry researchers, satellite experiments are also being conducted to evaluate alternative spring crop choices, fertilizer application options, nonselective herbicide rates and timings and other management questions.

Three trials in Franklin, Adams and Lincoln Counties are evaluating different tillage and residue management systems of fall and spring take-out with summer fallow and soft white winter wheat to be harvested in 1996. A 1995 spring take-out trial in Garfield County is evaluating four management systems with soft white winter wheat after summer fallow. It also includes soft white spring wheat under two spring take-out systems in 1996.

Spring take-out trials with soft white spring wheat were completed in Columbia County in 1994 and 1995. A small plot satellite study to compare soft white spring wheat, hard red spring wheat, spring barley and spring oats under high and low residue systems was also conducted near the large trial in 1995. The second crop on both large trials will be harvested in 1996; winter wheat after summer fallow on the 1994 site and recrop spring wheat on the 1995 site. A direct seeding trial with spring barley compared two preplant application rates of Roundup in Columbia County in 1995.

Overview of New CRP Take-out Trials in 1996
Four new trials on spring CRP take-out with spring cereals were established in 1996 in Adams, Lincoln and Douglas Counties. The following are brief descriptions of the research trials:

Direct Seeding Strategies for Hard Red Spring Wheat - Adams County:
The trial is located on the Wellsandt Road 2.5 miles east of Ritzville on the Dale and Gary Galbreath farm in a 10- to 12-inch annual rainfall zone. The field has been in crested wheatgrass for 9 years. Several direct seeding systems with a Yielder drill are being compared with a “reduced” tillage system and seeding with a John Deere double disc drill. All treatments were sprayed with 3 pints/acre of Roundup RT. Five tillage and residue management treatments are included in the trial: 1) direct seed in undisturbed grass; 2) direct seed with a fertilizer/starch blend in undisturbed grass; 3) spring flail - direct seed; 4) spring burn - direct seed; and 5) a minimum tillage take-out system consisting of one discing, fertilizer injection, coil-packing and seeding with convention IH double disc drills.

Drill Comparison for Direct Seeding Hard Red Spring Wheat In CRP and Recrop Spring Wheat - Douglas County:
This research trial and a demonstration of 5 direct seeding drills are being conducted in collaboration with the June 18, 1996 “Fields of Tomorrow” program sponsored by Monsanto in cooperation with WSU, UI and a number of area grower groups, and Ag support agencies and industries. The trial is located east of Waterville (2 miles west of Farmer) on the Tony Viebrock farm in an 11-inch annual rainfall zone. The field is in its 9th year of crested wheatgrass. The grass residue was cut and chopped with a combine in fall 1995. All treatments were sprayed with 3 pints/acre of Roundup RT. Hard red spring wheat was planted with 5 direct seeding drills and air seeders, and under a conventional tillage system. Direct seeding implements include: Concord airseeder; Flexicoil 5000 and 1330 airseeders; John Deere 750 disc drill; and John Deere HZ deep furrow drill. The conventional tillage operations included a discing, conventional fertilizer injection, second discing, and seeding with the John Deere HZ drill. The trial is repeated in undisturbed CRP grass and in spring wheat stubble.

Drill Comparison for Direct Seeding Hard Red Spring Wheat - Adams County:
This research trial and a demonstration of 7 direct seeding drills are being conducted in collaboration with the June 20, 1996 “Fields of Tomorrow” program sponsored by Monsanto in cooperation with WSU, UI and a number of area grower groups, and Ag support agencies and industries. The trial is located west of Ritzville (Rosenoff and Dewald Roads) on the Ron Jirava farm in a 10- to 12-inch annual rainfall zone. The field is in its 10th year of crested wheatgrass. Hard red spring wheat was planted with a number of direct seeding drills and air seeders, and under a minimum tillage system. Direct seeding implements included: Concord airseeder; Flexicoil 5000 and 1330 airseeders; John Deere 750 drill; John Deere 9400 hoe drill on 15" spacing; John Deere 9400 hoe drill on 9" spacing with deep fertilizer banding; and John Deere HZ deep furrow drill with deep fertilizer banding. The minimum tillage system included one pass with a sweep and attached single gang of skewtreaders, conventional fertilizer injector, coil-packer and seeding with a John Deere double disc drill.

Tall Wheatgrass Tillage and Residue Management Options for Spring Barley - Lincoln County:
The trial is north of Sprague on the Andy and John Rustemeyer farm in a 13-inch annual rainfall zone. The field is in its 10th year of CRP and is predominantly tall wheatgrass. Four different tillage and residue management combinations are being compared. Prior to the initial field operations, Roundup RT was applied at 0, 16, 24 and 32 oz/acre in a split plot experiment across all the main tillage plots. Primary treatments included: 1) flail-2X sweep/tine harrow; 2) 2X disc-cultivate/tine harrow; 3) burn-2X sweep/tine harrow; and 4) light disc-burn-2X sweep/tine harrow. After the above primary tillage and residue management treatments have been established, the trial was managed as one field with a conventional fertilizer injector, cultivator/tine harrow and seeding with conventional IH hoe drills on 9" spacings.

Cooperative Research Efforts

Managing Nitrogen Fertility in CRP Take-out
Nitrogen fertilizer rate trials were established across the main plots of large-scale trials with winter wheat after summer fallow in Franklin and Adams Counties. Application were made in June of 1995 in the fallow year. A similar study was established in the Lincoln County spring take-out trial with spring barley. Four nitrogen rates and a non-fertilized check are being compared at each of the sites.

Economic Analyses of the CRP Take-out Systems in the Large-Scale Trials:
Doug Young, WSU agricultural economist, and Kate Painter, WSU economics research associate, are conducting the economic analyses of the CRP take-out systems for this project. The economic comparisons are underway and will be completed after harvest of the trials in 1996.

Soil Quality Changes with Different CRP Take-out Systems:
Ann Kennedy, ARS soil microbiologist in Pullman, is cooperating in the evaluation of soil quality changes as the CRP land is returned to crop production under different tillage and residue management systems. Soil samples will continue to be collected and analyzed for several years after CRP take-out to document longer term impacts of management practices.

Additional Report Copies and More Information on CRP Take-out

Additional copies of the preliminary research report on CRP take-out (WSU Technical Rpt. 96-2) are available here in pdf format.

For more information on the WSU CRP take-out research project contact the project leaders: Roger Veseth, WSU/UI Conservation Tillage Specialist, Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences Dept., University of Idaho, Moscow, 83843-2339; phone 208-885-6386; FAX 208-885-7760; E-mail: rveseth@uidaho.edu.
Baird Miller, WSU Agronomist, Crop and Soil Sciences Dept., WSU, Pullman, WA 99164-6420; phone: 509-335-2858; FAX 509-335-1758; E-mail: millerbc@wsu.edu
Tim Fiez, WSU Soil Fertility Specialist, Crop and Soil Sciences Dept., WSU, Pullman, WA 99164-6420; phone 509-335-2997; FAX 509-335-1758; E-mail: tfiez@wsu.edu

For herbicide application recommendations, refer to product labels and the Pacific Northwest Weed Control Handbook, an annually revised extension publication available from the extension offices of the University of Idaho, Oregon State University and Washington State University. To simplify information, chemical and equipment trade names have been used. Neither endorsement of named products is intended, nor criticism implied of similar products not mentioned.

     
 

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