WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Organic & Integrated Tree Fruit Production

Sunday, March 18, 2018


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2518. Helm, Douglas. 1981. Soil conservation in the Palouse country: oral history interview of Verle Kaiser. Bunchgrass Historian, Vol. 16, No. 3.
Kaiser describes early soil conservation efforts in the Palouse and the problems they tried to correct. States that 90-95% of pea residues and 75% of wheat straw was burned in the old days. Cut moldboards in half to make a "stubby" plow that wouldn't move as much soil downhill. Promoted straw spreaders on combines. Adapted equipment designed for midwest conditions to the Palouse. Promoted the planting of alfalfa/grass on the hilltops for 5-6 yr, then crop for 2-3 yr, then back to alfalfa. introduced biennial sweetclover (planted with peas) as a green manure, which boosted wheat yields 25%. Also added organic matter and improved infiltration with its taproot. Use of strip cropping is limited in the Palouse topography. Need long gentle slopes of 5-12%. States that 80% of the soil loss comes from steep slopes that are summerfallowed. Advocates standing stubble to increase soil moisture storage and erosion control. States that highest yielding ground always has history of manure, and loss of livestock in the Palouse has been a problem. Tillage erosion has removed 2-3 times the soil of water erosion on the hilltops and steep slopes. With government programs, the farmer is no longer the "manager" of the farm, and planning becomes difficult. Barley a good conservation crop when spring planted. Could cut the erosion in the Palouse in half by shifting from a winter to a spring crop.

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