PULLMAN, Wash. – Help for farmers who must develop management strategies for returning Conservation Reserve Program acreage to crop production is available in a new publication from Washington State University Cooperative Extension.
Contracts on more than 500,000 acres of Washington cropland (1.2 million acres in the Pacific Northwest) will expire this year if growers don’t sign-up for one-year extensions.
Farmers who don’t extend contracts can start taking grass out of CRP in July, or participate in an early release option in March.
“Management Considerations for Returning CRP Land to Crop Production” is published as Technical Report 96-2 from the WSU crop and soil sciences department. The 23-page publication gives a preliminary summary of a research project initiated in 1994 in Washington State to evaluate systems for returning CRP to crop production in low-precipitation crop-fallow regions.
It also reviews general management considerations based on the collective knowledge and experience of Northwest scientists, growers and farm support personnel.
The project goal is to identify management strategies that optimize agronomic performance and profitability of the first crops following CRP take-out, while providing effective soil erosion control, and preservation of soil improvements gained during CRP. The research focus is on the low-rainfall, crop-fallow region because much of the CRP land is located in this cropping region.
WSU Cooperative Extension is responsible for coordinating the statewide CRP take-out research project, under authorization from the Washington Farm Service Agency, formerly ASCS. Growers, extension specialists and agents, researchers, and personnel from agricultural support agencies and industry are actively involved in the research project.
This statewide project has two primary research thrusts; evaluation of management strategies for returning CRP land to winter wheat production following a summer fallow period, and evaluation of management strategies for returning CRP land to spring crop production.
Fertility management in CRP take-out, herbicide application rates and timings for killing CRP grass, and changes in soil quality under different take-out systems are included in the research.
Eleven large-scale on-farm trials for evaluating CRP take-out have been established from 1994 to 1996. Four trials in Adams, Franklin, Garfield and Lincoln Counties evaluating different tillage systems of CRP take-out followed by summer fallowing were planted to winter wheat in 1995.
Three trials on spring take-out for spring cereals were completed in Columbia County in 1994 and 1995.
Four new trials are underway in 1996 on spring take-out for spring wheat in Adams, Lincoln and Douglas Counties.
Copies of the report are available from county offices of WSU Cooperative Extension, Conservation Districts and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in central and eastern Washington. Copies can also be requested by calling (509) 335-2915.
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