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Air Quality

Dust Emission from Agricultural Fields

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 Web site.


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