Implications of Water Impacts from Climate Change: Preparing Agricultural Educators and Advisors in the Pacific Northwest

Final report for EW15-012

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Joe Harrison
Washington State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

The Implications of Water Impacts from Climate Change: Preparing Agricultural Educators and Advisors in the PNW has two major components: 1. The regional agricultural water conference: Climate Impacts to Water: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Quality Conference in the Pacific Northwest, aimed at agricultural educators and advisors and 2. A series of video resource products highlighting regional water conservation stories under the context of regional agricultural adaptation to climate change.

  1. We are anticipating the PNW regional Climate Impacts to Water: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Quality Conference taking place on Jan 25-26, 2017 on the Columbia River at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. This conference committee comprised of university related climate projects and NRCS has been planning for the past year to organize this event. At the current time, we are accepting abstracts for the event as well as advertising to groups to attend the conference. Please see the attachments to view the advertisement and press release. The conference website is: wsu.edu/climateimpactstowaterconference
  2. The three short films consist of documenting water conservation success stories and promising management in the region. The videos feature:
    1. Low Elevation Precision Application/Low Elevation Spray Application Irrigation- Dr. Troy Peters with WSU Extension is interviewed as the expert on the topic. We also interviewed Doug Simpson on his Mint and Grape farm in Mabton WA using the LEPA irrigation system. The irrigation system has drop hoses that come down from the pivot to direct apply closer to the earth vs. 12 feet up off of the center pivots. He uses soil probes and is so impressed by the system after trying it for the past 3 years, that he will be installing flow meters to monitor water use and efficiency.
    2. Dry farming on small vegetable farms in Western Oregon- we interviewed 4 small farmers (Cathryn and Dan Herz; Harz Farm, Darlene Gowen; Gowen Farm, Keegan Caughlin; Taproot Growers at Two Rivers Farm) that are growing tomatoes, melons, and dry beans under dry farming conditions. Amy Garett, with OSU is interviewed as the expert on the topic during the OSU field day on the topic of dry farming. Dry farming is practiced in Northern California and is becoming more popular as water and periods of water shortage are becoming more common in the Pacific Northwest. The variety of vegetables are chosen because of their vertically expansive root system and their adaptability to the region. The plants are not watered and have a 3 inch layer of dirt mulch on top of them preventing competition with weeds.
    3. Climate Impacts Leading to Water Concerns on Washington State Dairy Farms-Joe Harrison, Livestock Nutrient Management Specialist with Washington State University, Jay Gordon, Washington State Dairy Federation, Guillaume Mauger, University of WA Climate Impacts Group, Jason Sheehan, Owner and dairymen, along with Kyle VanDyk, herds manager of J&K Dairy in Sunnyside WA and their agronomist, Scott Stephens with AgriManagement, Inc are interviewed to discuss farm management adaptations after experiencing the snow drought of 2015. The video resource focuses on lessons learned from the 2015 drought and how the farm is planning for the future by reactive adaptation. For example, they planted sorghum because of the lesser water use compared to corn. Also their rows are closer together to keep the soil protected from the sun increasing water moisture holding capacity.2017-water-impacts-from-cc-briefclimateimpacts-card_register_2updraft-schedule
Project Objectives:

The objectives of the two components of this project is to utilize traditional outreach strategies to improve the understanding that agriculture professionals have about projected climate impacts on water accessibility in the PNW and support them to make sustainable management decisions. The target audience was professionals advising agricultural producers, including regional, state and local agencies (e.g. NRCS).

The main objective was equipping professionals who are better equipped to assist producers proactively manage risks and adopt effective water management strategies that will make their farming operations more resilient to drought stress. This was achieved by:

1) hosting a PNW regional conference that focused on multiple aspects of agricultural water management and conservation associated with climate change: Climate Impacts to Water Conference: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Management in the PNW Conference January 25-26, Skamania Lodge, Stevenson WA. The objectives of the conference is to educate and inform the agriculture professionals in the region on the climate impacts to the regions water supply. Also, an overarching theme of this meeting is for water users, managers and sharers in the PNW to learn each other’s values, so ultimately we can conserve and properly use the regions’ resource effectively, especially under future climate predictions. (http://ext100.wsu.edu/water/climate-impacts-to-water-conference/ )

2) providing online informational video and written resources about regional drought risks and water management (https://puyallup.wsu.edu/lnm/adapting-climate-change/ ). The objectives and intent of the three water conservation and management videos is to effectively demonstrate regional stories of water conservation and efficiency adaptation practices: through new technology (LEPA/LESA), new management practices that are being adapted from Northern CA and being now being tried in OR (dry farming) and reactive adaptation (dairy farming within a Jr. water rights district). An additional objective with the informational video series was to make these available to educators, consultants, advisors, teaching professionals and producers. 

Introduction:

Severe droughts are projected in semiarid regions of the U.S. during the upcoming century (Ault et al., 2014; Steinemann, 2014). Because of its reliance on regional climatic factors, the PNW’s $21.8 billion ($13.2 billion for crops and $8.6 billion for animals; USDA-NASS, 2013) agricultural sector is vulnerable to risks associated with climate change, especially, increased pressures on water resources in arid environments.

Annual average temperatures in the PNW are projected to increase by 3.3 to 9.7° F by the end of the century and availability and timing of precipitation is also expected to shift (Mote et al., 2014). Although precipitation projections vary, models consistently indicate decreased summer precipitation by the end of the century (Abatzoglou et al., 2014; Mote et al., 2014). Excessive spring precipitation, longer freeze-free seasons, decreases in mountain snowpack, and reduced stream flow could also reduce available water, and further stress agricultural production and management (Mote et al., 2014; Abatzoglou et al., 2014; DOE, 2011).  

The impacts of drought and excessive spring moisture were already apparent during the 2013 growing season in the Midwest, Great Plains and California (USDA-NASS, 2014). Summer 2014 was reported as the hottest on record in central WA and some growers had difficulty managing irrigation demands and crop heat stress (Webber, 2014). Devastating drought and water shortages have severely impacted management practices and shut down agricultural operations (e.g. 2014 California crop and dairy operations, 2011 Texas beef and hay production). In the PNW, seasonal variations in water supply and demand of the Columbia River Basin (a main regional watershed) have resulted in localized water shortages that are expected to increase with competing demands for fresh water resources into the future (DOE, 2011). 

To reduce negative economic, social and environmental consequences associated with drought, agricultural producers, advisors and managers must be better informed about regional climate projections (immediate and long-term), on-farm water management, and conservation opportunities. Regional agricultural producers and professionals have shown interest in learning more about the consequences and management of drought in the PNW. Ninety-two percent of stakeholders responded that water related changes were the most important consideration in their jobs out of all possible climate impacts in the PNW (CIRC survey, 2010). Also, a public opinion survey from the PNW demonstrated people are concerned about food related insecurity and crop failure from climate change in the future (Bernacchi, 2014 presentation). Because agricultural advisors and similar stakeholders serve as key resources to producers for information about risks and management, increasing their awareness and accessibility to relevant resources can improve their ability to address concerns about sustainable water management, and risks to production systems and local environments.

Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest (PNW; WA, ID and OR) provides a substantial proportion of food production in the U.S. Future climate models predict that the region’s agricultural production operations and systems will be challenged by water supply due to decreased snow pack, and issues associated with water access and rights. Producers and agricultural professionals are interested in more information about specific risks associated with climate change, including future expectations and appropriate management strategies. This project provides agricultural advisors, regulators and managers with information about regional climate related water risks that they can use to advise producers.

 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Chad Kruger
  • Troy Peters
  • John Stevenson
  • Elizabeth Whitefield
  • Dr. Jon Yoder

Education

Educational approach:

Our long-term outcome is to help agricultural professional advisors and educators assist PNW producers have sufficient resources to make better decisions by adapting regional strategies that will make their operations more resilient to climate change, while minimizing environmental impact. Multiple educational approaches were used to help achieve this outcome.   

  • The conference and resource materials will help increase awareness, knowledge and confidence among agriculture professionals. Specifically the targeted audience would have:
    1. Understood how weather and climate impacts water and agricultural production as well as understand the implications of agricultural production with less water.
    2. Became familiar with water conservation, management and technology options.
    3. Understood how current regulations related to water and agriculture impact agricultural production and conservation strategies.
    4. Gained knowledge and accessibility to regional tools and resources.
  • Outreach education materials available online that are targeted and accessible to agricultural professionals and producers that help inform and support their management choices.
  • Regional collaboration fostered development of a regional network of professionals skilled in addressing environmental concerns associated with agriculture. Collaboration will enable the working team to exchange valuable experiences and strengthen education and communication through delivery methods and lessons learned.
  • Agriculture professionals, policy makers, scientists and producers who are better informed about farmer and rancher barriers and hesitation that might prevent adoption of conservation efforts. This dialogue shed light on areas of possible research discovery and/or joint regional efforts for collaboration.
  • Opportunities to bridge the gap between scientific research and policy through the conference presentation information, resources and networking. 
  • Producers who are prepared to improve the resiliency of farms and growing operations through adoption of practices that reduce their risk and vulnerability to water related stress.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Component 1: Climate Impacts to Water Conference: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Management in the PNW Conf.
Objective:

hosting a PNW regional conference that focused on multiple aspects of agricultural water management and conservation associated with climate change: Climate Impacts to Water Conference: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Management in the PNW Conference January 25-26, Skamania Lodge, Stevenson WA. The objectives of the conference is to educate and inform the agriculture professionals in the region on the climate impacts to the regions water supply. Also, an overarching theme of this meeting is for water users, managers and sharers in the PNW to learn each other’s values, so ultimately we can conserve and properly use the regions’ resource effectively, especially under future climate predictions.

Description:

The theme of Climate Impacts to Water: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Quality in the Pacific Northwest Conference was to create a dialogue among the communities that value and use the region’s water as well as addressing water concerns facing PNW agricultural producers. Highlights included specific water concerns faced by agricultural producers, growers and land managers including: Regional projections of climate and water supply, Water policy regulations and rights, Water Conservation and Agriculture, and Social Science Communication.  The conference focused on these aspects of agricultural water management and conservation associated with climate change and was directed to those who advise and work with agricultural producers, including: consultants, advisors, extension educators and specialists, agriculture professionals, state, government and local agency employees, and academic professionals.

Educational topics of interest from the conference included:

Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply & Quality -Stakeholder Panel

Scott Revell, Roza Irrigation District; Les Perkins Hood River Basin Collaborative Water Planning Project; Kevin Chambers, Koosah Vineyard and Winery, Oregon Wine Association; Jay Gordon, Washington State Dairy Federation; Kat Brigham, Umatilla Tribal Member; Bill Dewey, Taylor Shellfish; Mary Lou Soscia, EPA Water Quality

Parched and Drenched: Future Climate and Water Resources in the Pacific Northwest– John Abatzoglou, Associate Professor, University of Idaho Department of Geography

Adapting to Less Water: Regional Stories of Water Conservation

  • The Dry Farming Collaborative – Amy Garrett, Oregon State University Extension
  • Low Elevation Spray Application – Steve Shively, Shivley Custom Farming
  • The time is right to optimize your irrigation system – Jac le Roux, Irrinet, LLC

 Review of Climate impacts on Water Management within Washington, Oregon & Idaho in Recent Years

  • Washington – Jeff Marti, Drought Coordinator, Washington State Department of Ecology
  • Oregon – Lanaya Blakely, Oregon Water Resources Department
  • Idaho – David Hoekema, Hydrologist, Idaho Department of Water Resources

Remote Sensing, Satellite & Surface Observations to Support Improvements in Agricultural Water Management - Forrest Melton, Sr. Research Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center & California State University Monterey Bay

Conference Track: Water Quality

  • Riparian Proper Functioning Condition and Washington Service Team Primer – Tip Hudson
  • Use of Poplar for Storm Water Management – Bob Simmons
  • Geospatial Analysis and Pesticide Modeling in Oregon PSP Watersheds – Philip Janey
  • Salmon Populations Under Stress: How Various Stressors, Including Climate Change will Impact Salmon in the Future – John Stark
  • Invasive Species, Climate Change and Water Quality in the Pacific Northwest – Sharon Collman

Conference Track: Projected Impacts to Climate Change

  • Water in 2035: Water Supply and Demand Forecast for the Columbia River Basin – Kirti Rajagopalan
  • Timing is Everything: Implications of a Changing Hydroclimate for Water Availability, Growing Seasons and Irrigation Demand – Margaret Matter
  • Hood River Water Conservation Strategy: Achieving Long-term Water Resource Reliability for Agriculture and Local Fish Populations – Cindy Thieman
  • The Double Whammy: Changing Rangeland Uses Interact with Climate to Affect Northwest Waters – Linda Hardesty
  • Effects of Drought on Farm Revenue: Eleven Western U.S. States– Ballav Aryal

The Hirst Case (WA): An Opportunity to Integrate Land Use Law & Water Law to Prepare for Climate Change- Jean Melious, J.D., Western Washington University

 Climate Implications to Groundwater Supply in the Pacific Northwest- Matt Bachmann, USGS Washington Water Science Center

Policy Implications of Climate Change on Water Supply Management- Susan Adams, Executive Director, Washington Water Trust; Tom Tebb, Director, Washington State Department of Ecology, Office of the Columbia River; Dan Haller, Aspect Consulting

Food for Thought: Impacts of Climate Change for Agriculture in the Columbia River Basin- Mike Brady, Washington State University School of Economics; Kirti Rajagopalan, Washington State University Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources

Keeping Up with Research and Extension Efforts in the Pacific Northwest:

  • National Water and Climate Center – Mike Strobel, Director
  • Northwest Climate Hub – Bea Van Horne, Director
  • NIDIS Drought Early Warning System John Stevenson, PNW Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC)
  • Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Natural Resources/NW WA Research & Extension Center –Chad Kruger, Director
  • University of Idaho Extension – Jim Ekins, Area Water Educator
  • Northwest Climate Toolbox – John Abatzoglou, Associate Professor, University of Idaho Department of Geology

Drought Impacts: Turning Experience into Data- Kelly Smith, Communication Coordinator, National Drought Mitigation Center

2015 Post Drought Assessment- Gary Bahr, Natural Resources Assessment Manager, Washington State Department of Agriculture

Conference Track: Water Efficiency & Conservation

  • On Farm Opportunities for Water & Energy Conservation – Fred Vosper
  • Low Elevation Precision Application (LEPA) and Low Elevation Spray Application (LESA) in the PNW – Dick Stroh
  • Water Conservation Opportunities through Low Elevation Spray Application – Troy Peters
  • Opportunities for Funding Water & Energy Conservation – Robert Wallace
  • Agriculture Resilience Planning – Abid Sarwar
  • Advancing Drought Monitoring Using a Small Unmanned Aerial System for Irrigated Agriculture – Jae Ryu

 Conference Track: Regional Water Management

  • Can Biochar Conserve Water in Pacific Northwest Soils? – Claire Phillips
  • Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation – Bob Austin
  • Agriculture Resilience Planning – Cindy Dittbrenner
  • Evaluating Landscape Ornamentals for Un-irrigated Landscapes in Western Oregon – Neil Bell
  • Community Learning & Water Resources Improvements – Jim Ekins
  • Performance of Porous Pavements Under Controlled Conditions in Western WA – Ani Jayakaran

Conference Workshop: Washington Riparian Team Interest Workshop - Tip Hudson, WSU Extension

This workshop familiarized potential future Washington Riparian Team members with the objectives of the team, opportunities to receive training, and fundamentals of the nationally recognized PFC assessment process. State service teams, operating under the Creeks and Communities Network, use Riparian Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) as a communication tool to organize diverse groups around a common goal for a stream system by focusing on physical function of streams. Members of the Washington Riparian Team will serve as a pool of trained individuals from a variety of natural resource disciplines who will assemble as needed in interdisciplinary teams to conduct formal PFC assessments and communicate with local problem-solving groups and agencies.

 Poster Presentations:

  • Empowering Precision Irrigation with Data – Dan Berne
  • Managing Street Tree Canopy and Composition as a Means to Reduce Urban Air and Runoff Temperatures in Portland, Oregon – Lauren Burns
  • Assessment of Non-Point Source Phosphorus Pollution Potential in the Increasingly Urbanized Puget Sound Region-Nannette Huber
  • Farmer to Farmer: Multimedia Case Studies to Increase Resilience among Farmers in the Pacific Northwest – Chad Kruger
  • Reducing Exposure to Environmental Hazards by Promoting Domestic Well Water Safety – Chrissy Lucas
  • Timing is Everything: Implications of Changing Hydroclimate for Water Availability, Growing Seasons and Irrigation Demand- Margaret Matter
  • WSU WISE – Don McMoran
  • Climate Change Effects on Grazing Management and Beef Cattle Production in the Pacific Northwest – Shannon Neibergs
  • AgClimate Network CC Impacts to Water Proceedings Paper – Brooke Saari

Presentations and recordings can be found at: http://ext100.wsu.edu/water/climate-impacts-to-water-conference/

 

Outcomes and impacts:

The outcomes of the regional conference built on the information base on the regional network of advisors and educators to take the knowledge gained at the conference into action in the field. The conference spurred discussion of collaboration, awareness of regional efforts, and potential collaborative action for future outreach efforts.

109 people attended the two day event. The online post conference evaluation received a 31% response rate, 72% of attendees answered that they had a very good level of skill at the end of the conference compared to the 27% who had a very good understanding at the start of the conference. On a scale of 1-5, one being the least amount of value, 5 being the most valuable; 55 % of evaluation respondents indicated agricultural water management topics at the conference were of the second most valuable, 21% responded that the topic was of the most value. Forty- eight percent of respondents found the topic of climate impacts to regional projections at the conference to be of the second to most value, and 35% of the most value. The topic of regional stakeholder issues and efforts was found (45%) to be of the second of most value to the respondents, and 31% found it to be the most valuable at the conference. The topic of irrigation at the conference was found to be of the second most value (45%) at the conference, and 21% it was the most valuable topic at the conference. Thirty- eight percent of respondents found the topic of policy at the conference to be of the second to most value, and 17% of the most value. Seventy percent of conference evaluation respondents strongly agreed that the conference was organized and planned well, both 49% agreed and 49% strongly agreed the conference content was appropriate and 52% strongly agreed that the conference was organized to allow all to participate fully. The individual written responses from the conference are very positive and encouraging for additional future support of this concerning topic of climate and food production. Please see the attachment for the full evaluation.

The intent of the conference was to build on the regional network of advisors and educators and take the knowledge gained at the conference into action in the field. The conference spurred discussion of collaboration, awareness of regional efforts, and potential action for future outreach efforts. The post conference evaluation demonstrates this was a valuable event.

Conference proceedings and recorded presentations can be found at: http://ext100.wsu.edu/water/climate-impacts-to-water-conference/

Component 2: Profiling Climate Compatible Methods of Agricultural Practice in the Pacific Northwest
Objective:

To provide online informational video and written resources about regional drought risks and water management (https://puyallup.wsu.edu/lnm/adapting-climate-change/ ). The objectives and intent of the three water conservation and management videos is to effectively demonstrate regional stories of water conservation and efficiency adaptation practices: through new technology (LEPA/LESA), new management practices that are being adapted from Northern CA and being now being tried in OR (dry farming) and reactive adaptation (dairy farming within a Jr. water rights district). An additional objective with the informational video series was to make these available to educators, consultants, advisors, teaching professionals and producers.

Description:

Three different agricultural topics pertaining to water conservation and efficiency were profiled through short videos to demonstrate how and why farmers are choosing to think about water when adapting to a changing climate in the Pacific Northwest. These video resources are shared to highlight successful adaptation practices of conserving water while remaining profitable. The video resources can be found here: https://puyallup.wsu.edu/lnm/adapting-climate-change/

Video 1: Low Elevation Spray Application (LESA) Irrigation in Eastern WA: Troy Peters (WSU Ext. Irrigation Specialist) and Doug Simpson (Simpson Brothers, Inc) are interviewed to introduce Low Elevation Spray Application (LESA)

  • Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest provides a substantial proportion of food production in the U.S. Future climate models predict that the region’s agricultural production operations and systems will be challenged by water supply due to decreased snow pack, and issues associated with water access and rights. Producers and agricultural professionals are interested in more information about regional ag and climate change, including future expectations and appropriate management strategies. This video provides farmers, agricultural advisors, regulators and managers with information about water efficient irrigation management that saves water and also increased yields by putting the water closer to the root system.
  • A video resource was developed featuring Troy Peters (WSU Ext. Irrigation Specialist) and Doug Simpson (farmer (mint, grapes and alfalfa, Simpson Brothers, Inc) who were interviewed to introduce Low Elevation Spray Application (LESA). The LESA technology improves the sprinkler system application efficiency, reduces the direct evaporation from the sprinkler, reduces moisture loss from wet leaves, and requires less pressure to operate; thus reducing the pump power consumption.
  • Troy Peters with WSU Extension is interviewed as the expert on the topic. We also interviewed Doug Simpson on his Mint and Grape farm in Mabton WA using the LEPA irrigation system. The irrigation system has drop hoses that come down from the pivot to direct apply closer to the earth vs. 12 feet up off of the center pivots. He uses soil probes and is so impressed by the system after trying it for the past 3 years, that he will be installing flow meters to monitor water use and efficiency.
  • The intent of this informational video is to increase awareness and understanding about water-related risks and encourage management decisions that minimize negative economic and environmental impacts. This resource suggests evaluating a climate compatible management practice or crop variety on a part of a field, or when replacing outdated irrigation sprinklers and pumps.

Video 2: Conserving Water through Dry Farming in Oregon: Dr. Amy Garrett, Dry Farming Project Leader with OSU Extension Service is profiled along with small vegetable farmers (Keenan Coughlin, Taproot Growers at Two Rivers Farm; Springfield OR; Darlene Gowen, Gowen Farm, Independence, OR; Catheryn and Dan Herz, Herz Farm, Salem OR)  that practice dry farming in Oregon

  • This informational video resource provides farmers, agricultural advisors, regulators and managers with information about water efficient irrigation management that saves water, reduces weeds and increases taste properties with a high sugar content of the fruit and vegetables.
  • This video resource was produced featuring Dry farming vegetables and fruit in Oregon, which is usually regionally adapted long tap root varieties. Dry farming uses the residual moisture in the soil from the rainy season, usually in a region that receives 20” or more of annual rainfall. Dry farming works to conserve soil moisture during long dry periods primarily through a system of tillage, surface protection, and the use of drought-resistant varieties.
  • Amy Garrett, Dry Farming Project Leader with OSU Extension Service is profiled along with a group of small vegetable farmers from Benton County and Willamette County that use dry farming methods in Oregon.
  • Amy Garett, with OSU is interviewed as the expert on the topic during the OSU field day on the topic of dry farming. Dry farming is practiced in Northern California and is becoming more popular as water and periods of water shortage are becoming more common in the Pacific Northwest. The variety of vegetables are chosen because of their vertically expansive root system and their adaptability to the region. The plants are not watered and have a 3 inch layer of dirt mulch on top of them preventing competition with weeds.
  • The intent of this informational video resource is to increase awareness and understanding about water-related risks and encourage management decisions that minimize negative economic and environmental impacts.

Video 3: Climate Impacts Leading to Water Concerns on Washington State Dairy Farms: Joe Harrison, Livestock Nutrient Management Specialist with Washington State University, Jay Gordon, Washington State Dairy Federation, Guillaume Mauger, University of WA Climate Impacts Group, Jason Sheehan, Owner and dairymen, along with Kyle VanDyk, herds manager of J&K Dairy in Sunnyside WA and their agronomist, Scott Stephens with AgriManagement, Inc are interviewed to discuss farm management adaptations after experiencing the snow drought of 2015.

  • This video provides farmers, agricultural advisors, regulators and managers with information about climate change impacts in the PNW to dairies and also water efficiency on dairy farms.
  • This informational video resource was developed featuring an Eastern Washington dairy’s reactive adaptation management decisions after the 2015 drought and preparing for future growing seasons with less water.
  • Crop varieties requiring less water (sorghum vs. corn) are discussed, as well as no till practices are explored.
  • The video focuses on lessons learned from the 2015 drought from being in a jr. rights water district in eastern WA (Roza Irrigation district) and how the farm is planning for the future by reactive adaptation. For example, a dairy farm within the Roza irrigation district, J&K Dairy, planted sorghum because of the decreased water use compared to corn. Also their rows are closer together to keep the soil protected from the sun increasing water moisture holding capacity
  • This videos highlights successful adaptation practices and climatically compatible management practices of how water can be used efficiently on dairies during periods of drought stress.
Outcomes and impacts:

The online informational resources about water management in different aspects of farming practices in the Pacific Northwest are found online at: https://puyallup.wsu.edu/lnm/adapting-climate-change/ . All materials online are available to educators, consultants, advisors, teaching professionals and producers. These resources provide outreach materials for Extension agent/educators, advisors and/or decision makers to use and share with producers. The series of resources create awareness of regional water issues and promote adaptive behavior through profiled stories of water conservation and efficiency in different farming practices. The videos address specific questions about regional water issues and practices by featuring regional producer’s conservation management practices or adaptation strategies.

In a multimedia based world, short videos are an effective visual means to provide information.  A series of short (5 minute) climate change minute videos focusing on water conservation and efficiency were developed to connect innovative farming practices to other farmers, their advisors, consultants and the agricultural community.  In each of the short series, farmers, their advisors, and university experts are interviewed to provide their perspectives, knowledge and economic information. The three resources in the adaptation series have the following information in common:

 

  • A regional agricultural management practice that requires less water and is considered an adaptation method in a changing climate.
  • An agricultural producer and/or agriculture professional addressing specific concerns about regional water conservation, the agricultural management practice they use to deal with the issue and the associated risks and management decisions they face.
  • An interview with at least one expert on the topic of interest.
  • Verbal and visual information about the highlighted agricultural management practices.
  • Region based adaptation practices to meet the concerns specific to the Pacific Northwest region.

The focus of the education and outreach initiatives for each of the videos are as follows:

Video 1: Water Efficient Irrigation Practice: Featuring Low Elevation Spray Application (LESA):

  • LEPA places the emitter type sprinkler on or just above the soil surface to conserve water loss to drift, evaporation and vapor. LESA has the sprinklers located 3 feet or less above the soil surface and uses spray type sprinklers. LEPA and LESA both double the number of sprinklers on a center pivot.              
  • Both LESA and LEPA technologies improve the sprinkler system application efficiency, reduces the direct evaporation from the sprinkler, reduces moisture loss from wet leaves, and requires less pressure to operate; thus reducing the pump power consumption.

Video 2: Adapting to a Changing Climate: Conserving Water with Dry Farming Management

  • Dry farming vegetables and fruit in Oregon, using regionally adapted long tap root varieties.
  • Regionally adapted varieties of vegetables grown with the dry farming practice use the residual moisture in the soil from the rainy season, usually in a region that receives 20” or more of annual rainfall.
  • Dry farming works to conserve soil moisture during long dry periods primarily through a system of tillage, surface protection, and the use of drought-resistant varieties.

Video 3: Water and Climate Concerns on Washington State Dairy Farms:

  • An Eastern Washington dairy’s reactive adaptation management decisions after the 2015 drought and preparing for future growing seasons with less water.
  • Crop varieties requiring less water (sorghum vs. corn) are discussed, as well as no till management is discussed in this video resource.

Youtube viewership was recorded for the following videos:

 Water Efficient Irrigation Practice: Featuring Low Elevation Spray Application (LESA): 70 views

Adapting to a Changing Climate: Conserving Water with Dry Farming Management: 177 views

Water and Climate Concerns on Washington State Dairy Farms: 83 views

The video series content has been shared with Agclimate.net; a web-based hub for data, analysis and communication between regional scientists and stakeholders (Pacific Northwest) about climate change and agricultural and natural resources topics. A consortium of institutions including Oregon State University, University of Idaho, and Washington State University, and individuals contribute content to this site and share articles and analyses. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
52 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: Regional Conference, proceedings and recordings

Participation Summary:

20 Extension
6 NRCS
40 Researchers
17 Nonprofit
10 Agency
2 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
14 Farmers/ranchers
16 Others

Learning Outcomes

91 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
10 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

5 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Component 1: Climate Impacts to Water Conference: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Management in the PNW Conference January 25-26, Skamania Lodge, Stevenson WA

The 2 day regional Conference “Climate Impacts to Water: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Quantity in the Pacific Northwest” was a successful platform to bring together professional educators, consultants, advisors, teaching professionals and producers. Participants valued the information shared from the producers practicing water conservation and efficiency, from the ag groups experience and water plans for the future in a changing climate, from state and local authorities, as well as the fantastic current research efforts in the region.  The largest accomplishment was equipping the professionals with information to assist producers proactively manage risks and adopt effective water management strategies that will make their farming operations more resilient to drought stress. Conference proceedings and recorded presentations can be found at: http://ext100.wsu.edu/water/climate-impacts-to-water-conference/

The project team raised $20,000 for sponsorship of the event from WSU Center from Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, WA State Water Research Center, Department of Ecology- Office of the Columbia River, WSU Extension and University Corporation from Atmospheric Research. As previously discussed in the outcomes section of this report, there was 109 people at the conference and the online post conference evaluation received a 31% response rate, 72% of attendees answered that they had a very good level of skill at the end of the conference compared to the 27% who had a very good understanding at the start of the conference.

Component 2: Profiling Climate Compatible Methods of Agricultural Practice in the Pacific Northwest

Agricultural professionals, educators and producers look to other producers with successful management practices for information, questions and ideas. Promoting agricultural resiliency and providing ag water conservation information through the producer is an effective means of transferring valuable information to ag professionals, educators, decision makers and producers. Video and online resources help create access to visually experience different aspects of ag water conservation practices from one’s fingertips.  The videos in the series “Profiling Climate Compatible Methods of Agricultural Practice in the Pacific Northwest’ are meant to replicate the type of information and experience that one would gain from a university extension field day. In modern times, the issues resulting from the time involved, travel economics and justification for time and travel among agencies, make field days practically impossible from a regional perspective. This is unfortunate because people look to innovators and progressive stewards of the land for effective ideas, information and lessons learned. This series of videos provides valuable information regarding management practices that promote regional adaptation to less water in a changing climate from the innovators and leaders in sustainable ag practices.

10 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
14 Farmers reached through participant's programs
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.