OSU research helps wheat farmers achieve a triple bottom line

Article photo
OSU agronomist Stephen Machado tests the planting depth necessary for wheat to thrive in this region of dryland agriculture.

Since the 1800s when farmers first put plow to soil in Eastern Oregon, up to 60 percent of the soil’s organic matter essential for retaining water has been lost. In a drought-prone region where a majority of fields are not irrigated, that’s a serious threat to environmental and economic sustainability.

For the past 13 years, research plots at Oregon State University’s Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center (CBARC) in Sherman County have shown that no-till farming— where farmers drill in the seed without disturbing the surrounding soil — increases soil organic matter and fertility, conserves moisture, helps control weeds and in some years produces more than one crop. The technique also sequesters carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

OSU research led by OSU agronomist Stephen Machado also shows that over the past seven years, employing no-till produced higher yields than conventional farming methods.

Since learning about the benefits of no-till farming methods, close to 100 percent of wheat farmers in Wasco County have adopted no-till practices.

Source: Stephen Machado, dryland cropping system agronomist, CBARC

See this video about the benefits of no-till farming.

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