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Assessment of cereal grain waste densities to aid waterfowl conservation planning in the Klamath Basin

February 6, 2022

Postharvest waste seed from cereal grains is a major dietary component of waterfowl in the Klamath Basin in northeastern California and southeastern Oregon, a region that plays host to over a million waterfowl annually. Understanding food abundance is critical to local waterfowl management; therefore, we conducted a study in 2008 to investigate waste grain densities in barley, oat, and wheat fields. We used hierarchal mixed effect models to assess several factors that may affect waste grain densities postharvest. We also compared the effects of residue management practices to measure the effect of these treatments. To understand the scope of postharvest practices, we conducted a weekly road survey to document treatments applied to fields in our study area. We found that region best explained the variance of postharvest waste grain in barley fields, where the Tule Lake region had 89% greater densities than Lower Klamath. Neither harvester age nor baling affected waste grain in oats fields. In wheat fields, the model containing region and lodging ranked highest, where the Tule Lake region had 66% greater waste densities than Lower Klamath, and lodging increased waste grain by 70%. Burning did not reduce waste grain in barley or oat fields. Chisel-disking reduced waste grain by 94% in wheat fields compared with postharvest. Our field treatment survey found that 70% of barley fields were untreated while 18% were disked and 13% were burned and flooded. We estimated that 82% of oat fields were burned postharvest, while 18% were burned and flooded. In wheat, 61% of fields were left untreated, while 16% were disked, 8% were chisel-plowed, and 7% were flooded postharvest. Flooding and burning occurred primarily on National Wildlife Refuges, while disking, chisel-plowing, and postharvest irrigation occurred solely on private properties. Our results indicate that reducing tillage treatments would boost accessibility of cereal grain food resources to waterfowl in the Klamath Basin, and incentives to flood grain fields on private properties should be considered for the same purpose when and where possible.

Publication Year 2022
Title Assessment of cereal grain waste densities to aid waterfowl conservation planning in the Klamath Basin
DOI 10.3996/JFWM-20-091
Authors Daniel A. Skalos, Joseph P. Fleskes, Jeffery D. Kohl, Mark P. Herzog, Michael L. Casazza
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Index ID 70228202
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center