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Columbia Plateau PM10 Project

Note: The U.S. Congress in 2011 permanently eliminated funding for all Special Grants throughout the country, including the Columbia Plateau PM10 Project.

The Columbia Plateau is a 50,000 square mile region in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho containing both one of the driest as well as the most productive rainfed wheat regions in the world. Windblown dust is a concern in the dryer regions of the Columbia Plateau; dust generated from farming and construction sites poses a hazard to motorists, reduces soil productivity, and pollutes air in downwind communities.

Since 1993, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists has worked to provide significant insight and quantification on wind erosion and dust emissions from farm fields and the potential impacts to people living downwind. We have tested and verified a number of potential farm management and cropping system options to control wind erosion. Our field research has shown that some control practices are clearly not agronomically and economically viable, whereas other practices can be put to use to benefit our soil resource and air quality without hardship to the livelihood of farmers. The project continues to identify or develop sustainable practices that will reduce dust emissions from agricultural soils as well as to develop the capabilities to predict blowing dust events. As a result, decisions by farmers and agencies are being made from solid science.

The project was a cooperative effort of Washington State University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture the Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, the University of Idaho, and Oregon State University. You are encouraged to contact individual scientists with your questions and comments. This project is no longer being funded.