Soil water content and soil disaggregation by disking affects PM10 emissions
Row crop agriculture in California's San Joaquin Valley is a major contributor of particulate matter <10 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10). The California Air Resources Board uses fixed PM10 emission values for various tillage operations to monitor and design attainment strategies. However, fixed emission values do not reflect emissions produced by a single implement operating under different soil conditions. This 2-yr study evaluated how PM10 mass concentrations (µg L–1) from disking change as a function of gravimetric soil water content (GWC), number of sequential diskings (D1, D2, D3), and the soil's weighted mean ped diameter (WMPD). Results showed PM10 increased logarithmically as the soil dried from a GWC of 14 to 4%. Average PM10 values at the lower GWCs were six to eight times greater than at the higher GWCs. Number of diskings also increased PM10, especially in drier soil. Below a GWC of 7%, PM10 for D3 was about twice that for D1. Despite strong correlations between more disking and lower WMPD, a lower WMPD did not always result in an increase in PM10. This underscored the role soil water plays in reducing PM10 at high GWCs despite low WMPDs from multiple diskings. Three-way interactions between GWC, disking, and PM10 showed, on average, that the magnitude of PM10 produced by D1 was 1.3 to 1.6 times lower than by D3, despite having insignificantly different GWC. Therefore, a disking operation can yield two different PM10 values under similar GWCs if the amount of soil disaggregation is different. Our results show that inclusion of soil parameters in PM10 emission estimates is essential to describing agriculture's role in air quality violations and to assess the value of proposed mitigation measures, such as conservation tillage.