About the Wind Erosion Research


Manhattan, Kansas

Wind erosion is a serious problem in the United States and the world. It is responsible for about half of the more than two billion tons of soil lost from U.S. cropland annually. In the Great Plains alone, about five million acres are damaged moderately to severely by wind erosion each year. Wind erosion increases fertilizer requirements by removing the most fertile parts of the soil. Some soil from damaged land enters the atmosphere where it obscures visibility, pollutes the air, causes automobile accidents, fouls machinery, and imperils animal and human health. Blowing soil also fills road and irrigation ditches; buries fences; reduces seedling survival and growth; damages and lowers the quality of vegetable crops; increases susceptibility of plants to diseases; and contributes to transmission of plant pathogens. Deposition of wind blown sediments in drainage pathways and on water bodies significantly deteriorates water quality. Estimates of on-site and off-site costs of soil erosion by wind exceed $20 billion per year.

Wind erosion and fugitive dust continue to threaten soil resources, air quality, and sustainable agricultural production. Research objectives to address these problems are: 1) basic research to understand the processes of particulate dust emissions; 2) improve and extend the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) model to additional applications, including rangelands, construction sites and other disturbed lands; 3) develop improved control practices for reducing dust emissions, and; 4) transfer science based technology to customers. The studies conducted result in reliable wind erosion prediction tools and control practices to sustain agriculture, protect the environment, and conserve natural resources.

Recent Accomplishments
Released WEPS to the Natural Resources Conservation Service for implementation in the United States for conservation planning. WEPS is a state-of-the-art tool for developing BMPs to combat wind erosion is the only model available to provide realistic estimates of PM10 (fine dust) from agricultural lands. Developed regional erosion hazard mapping techniques; interacted daily with customers and collaborators; conducted workshops nationally and internationally; monitored the long term impact of wind erosion on soil quality; published research results in journals; transferred WEPS and other wind erosion technology directly to the public

Beneficiaries of this research include the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) which is using the WEPS model for conservation planning in 2,200 field offices nationwide. In addition, State and Federal regulatory policy agencies relative to conservation programs and climate change, conservation planners and land mangers benefit from this wind erosion research.

2005 Expert Review Panel's Conclusion
Wind erosion research at Manhattan, KS "has a long history as the premier agricultural wind erosion research facility and continues to be the leading agricultural wind erosion laboratory in the world."

For more information, contact:
USDA - Agricultural Research Service
Engineering & Wind Erosion Research Unit
1515 College Avenue
Manhattan, KS 66502
Phone: 785-537-5559
Fax: 785-537-5507


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