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

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: water management, water storage
  • Education and Training: extension, networking


    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:
    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. ( )

    2) providing online informational video and written resources about regional drought risks and water management ( ). 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. 

    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.