Understanding Soil Water Capture and Use in Very Tall Stubble

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2023: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Montana
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Perry Miller
Montana State University


  • Agronomic: peas (field, cowpeas), wheat


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cropping systems, no-till, water storage
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: dryland farming
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Dryland cropping systems are often water-limited in the northern great plains. Increasing soil-moisture retention is critical to support crops throughout the growing season, especially in times of drought. Stripper header technology, a new harvesting method that leaves full length stubble intact in the field, could improve water capture and use efficiency by obstructing wind, trapping snow and decreasing evaporation losses. This research aims to assess the differences in snow-trap potential and water use efficiency of pulse crop planted in two scenarios: traditionally combined short wheat stubble (<5 inches) and full-length stubble harvested via a stripper header. Results from this research will be shared with producers and extension personnel via outreach programs and a MontGuide.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Water conservation

    1. Investigate spatial and temporal aspects of snow trap and in-season water capture and use comparing very tall to short stubble


    1. Inform producers on the value of stripper header technology to help achieve sustainability goals
    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.