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Research Findings

Summary of Progress

The Columbia Plateau PM10 Project (CP3) was initiated in 1993 due to concern for air quality in eastern Washington. In 1990, stringent Federal air quality standards and regulations were placed on airborne particulate matter less than 10┬Ám in size (PM10). Soils in the low precipitation (less than 12 inches annual) region of the Columbia Plateau have relatively high quantities of PM10 sized particles and the soils are susceptible to wind erosion due of intensive tillage, weak aggregation, limited vegetative cover, and periodic high winds. The CP3 has made significant advances toward the goal of defining our soil resource and reducing soil loss and fugitive dust emissions caused by wind erosion. In 2008, the CP3 funded eleven projects covering a wide array of science, outreach, and implementation.

The goal of the CP3 is to develop farming practices that allow growers to control wind erosion and dust emissions without suffering economic hardship, and to assist them with adopting these practices on their farms. The key for controlling wind erosion and dust pollution in downwind areas is to maintain year round vegetative cover and surface roughness. Since its inception, the CP3 has focused on prediction and measurement of dust sources, development of viable farming practices to reduce wind erosion, and promotion of best management practices.

Since the turn of the 21st century, the Columbia Plateau has experienced less than average annual precipitation in seven of eight years. The 2008 crop year was especially difficult for growers as hardly an rainfall occurred during April and May. Consequently, wheat grain and straw yields were considerably lower than average. Improved cropping systems for wind erosion control continues to be a major research focus of the CP3. Research also continues on measurement of dust emissions from fields in the Columbia Plateau. Wind velocity profile analysis during high wind events indicates that direct suspension, not saltation, is the major process by which soil is lost and dust emitted from agricultural fields. The Project has a major research effort in modeling regional transport of windblown dust and also particulates derived from field burning.

The Columbia Plateau PM10 Project has benefited from excellent cooperation and support by many organizations and individuals. Grant funds for the CP3 were initially provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE). In 1994, the USDA-CSREES (Cooperative States Research Education and Extension Service) also contributed funds toward the project and this source of funding has continued through 2008. Research is largely conducted by Washington State University, USDA-ARS, and Oregon State University scientists, but significant contributions are also made by wheat grower associations, farmers, USDA-NRCS, and the Washington DOE.

Last Progress Reports from 2011

Arron H. Carter Progress Report (pdf)

Aaron D. Esser Progress Report (pdf)

Markus Flury Progress Report (pdf)

Ann Kennedy Progress Report (pdf)

Stephen Machado Progress Report (pdf)

Andy M. McGuire Progress Report (pdf)

Robert I. Papendick Progress Report

Keith E. Saxton Progress Report

William F. Schillinger Progress Report (pdf)

Brenton S. Sharratt Progress Report (pdf)

Doug L. Young Progress Report (pdf)