and Current Research Findings:
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 10µm 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.
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.
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.
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.