High Residue Farming in the Irrigated Far West

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $26,400.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Andrew McGuire
Washington State University Extension

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: extension, networking
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health


    Farmers in the irrigated regions of the far west have not adopted high residue farming (HRF; no-till, strip-till, etc.) to any great extent. Compared to the Midwest, adoption in these areas has been slowed by the challenges of using these systems with surface irrigation, by intensive crop rotations that include vegetables and other non-agronomic crops, and by the relatively less urgent soil conservation issues in arid climates. Recently, however, needs for water conservation, a new interest on building soil quality, increased overhead irrigation, and increased focus on controlling wind erosion has spurred adoption of high residue farming. To assist farmers with this major change, Extension and NRCS field personnel must adapt systems used in other regions to different climates, crops, and soils. In this project, we brought together Extension and NRCS representatives from AZ, CA, ID, NM, OR, and WA for a two-day conference to discuss the challenges of doing this, how best we can help each other, and how best to reach farmers. Farmers from these states, who are already using HRF, also attended to guide and ground our discussions. Finally, we held a training session on adult education, led by an expert on the topic, to give us the most current research on what motivates adults to make large, significant changes like the one to HRF and what methods could be used to increase adoption rates. As a result of this meeting, we established a HRF network website, http://westernhrf.wsu.edu/, containing a listing of people and active projects, and resources, including a annotated literature review. We also completed and submitted a HRF case study publication and video (in review at Washington State University, due out in late 2016).

    Project objectives:

    1. Increase Extension and NRCS personnel’s awareness and knowledge of HRF practices, challenges, and solutions in other states with similar agricultural systems.
    2. Collaboratively identify HRF problems common to these regions
    3. Identify and implement appropriate adult educational strategies for moving ahead with HRF programs
    4. Establish collaborations between Extension and Research personnel and with NRCS programs
    5. Create a website as a method to promote networking on these topics in the region, and post relevant information there.
    6. Create a case study of one or more farmer practitioner of high residue farming, for use among all the Western states that make up our project. This case study would include both edited video and a written publication, both posted online.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.