Dust Emission from Agricultural
NIFA-funded research in the Columbia Plateau
has demonstrated that continuous annual no-till
cropping can significantly reduce predicted
dust emissions during severe winds.
The research showed that continuous annual
no-till cropping can reduce predicted dust
emissions by 94 percent during severe wind
events, compared to conventional wheat-fallow.
Research continues on measuring dust emissions
from fields in the Columbia Plateau, a 50,000-square-mile
region in Washington , Oregon , and Idaho
containing one of the driest, yet most productive,
rain-fed wheat regions in the world.
Wind velocity profile analysis from a 20-acre
field site during two high-wind events in
2002 indicated that direct suspension (not
saltation) is the major process by which
soil is lost and dust emitted from a field
site. A major effort continues in modeling
regional transport of windblown dust and
also particulates derived from field burning.
An air quality forecast system is being
developed for predicting the impact of wheat
stubble field burning on air quality. Another
study concerning soil formation over geologic
time indicated that most windblown silt,
called ‘loess,' across the Columbia
Plateau was derived from glacial flood sediment
that was deposited in the southwest part
of the Plateau about 15,000 years ago.
More information is available on the Columbia
Plateau Wind Erosion/Air Quality Project
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