Maintaining straw, clods, and roughness on the soil surface during summer fallow is critical for wind erosion control in the low-precipitation (less than 12 inch annual) dryland wheat production region of the inland Pacific Northwest. Traditional tillage practices are intensive, involving eight or more tillage operations during the fallow cycle. A conservation tillage system using an undercutter for primary spring tillage followed by one or two rodweedings has conclusively been shown to increase surface straw and clod retention for erosion control with no adverse agronomic or economic affects compared to traditional tillage. Dr. Bill Schillinger and crew at the WSU Lind Experiment station have 12 years of successful experience with the undercutter system. Several farmers throughout the region are adopting the undercutter method for summer fallow farming.
To help spread the word and educate farmers on this system, Dr. Hans Kok and the WSU video crew are producing a video/DVD on the undercutter method of farming. The video should be ready for release early in 2006. A preview might be available at the Columbia Plateau PM-10 Project annual meeting on December 14-15 in Pasco.