Enhancing Vegetable Farm Resilience through Dryland Production

Project Overview

OW19-348
Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2019: $49,997.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Dr. ALEXANDRA STONE
Oregon State University

Information Products

Commodities

  • Vegetables: cucurbits, tomatoes

Practices

  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: dryland farming, organic agriculture

    Abstract:

    Enhancing Vegetable Farm Resilience through Dryland Production

    Some farmers have no water rights and all farmers run the risk of irrigation failure or lack of irrigation water supply in the future due to climate change. Dryland production of specific varieties of tomatoes and winter squash has been shown to be profitable and to produce high quality and long storing crops. This project will coordinate on-farm participatory research trials and collect and interpret site, soil, and crop data; train farmers in dryland vegetable production techniques, how to assess soil suitability, and how to measure soil moisture availability; engage farmers in production of dryland tomatoes and squash; engage farmers in collaborative learning about dryland production and site suitability evaluation through workshops, field days, social media, and listserves; and disseminate project resources to a broader group of farmers through an OSU Extension Publication, the OSU Small Farms newsletter, social media, and the Farmer to Farmer Exchange listserve. Changes in farmer understanding, intentions, and practices will be assessed though surveys and interviews. The project’s intensive on-farm trialing data, and strong farmer engagement with this data, will further our collective data-based understanding of factors related to dryland site suitability and dryland vegetable production success. This understanding will enhance farm resilience in the face of climate change, and will improve environmental, economic, and social sustainability of vegetable production in Oregon and beyond.

    Project objectives:

    Irrigation in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is dependent on Cascade mountain snowmelt; in the future, snowmelt will be variable and of lower quantity and shorter duration. In addition, many farms in the valley have no water rights and cannot irrigate. Farmers are increasingly interested in dryland production.

    While dryland production is profitable on many soils, not all soils are suitable. Soils can be assessed for suitability by taking deep soil cores to accurately identify taxonomy and to characterize chemical and physical properties related to moisture availability; available soil water can be measured at different depths by farmers using soil moisture sensors.

    In past work we have identified tomato (Early Girl) and winter squash (Winter Sweet and N. Georgia Candy Roaster) varieties that can be reliably and profitably grown dryland in the valley. In addition, dryland tomato varieties have a long shelf life and intense flavor and dryland winter squash varieties store longer than when grown with irrigation.

    This project will build on past OSU efforts by the OSU Dry Farming Collaborative and Stone, Garrett and Gallagher to expand farmer understanding of, and success with, dryland vegetable production. Specifically, it will collect a second year of intensive on-farm trialing data and strongly engage farmers with this data in an effort to further our collective data-based understanding of factors related to dryland vegetable production success. This understanding will enhance farm resilience in the face of climate change.

     

    Objective 1: Coordinate on-farm participatory research trials and collect and interpret site, soil, and crop data.

    Objective 2: Engage project farmers in collaborative learning about dryland vegetable production techniques and site/soil suitability.

    Objective 3: Engage a broader group of farmers in project findings through publications, social media and newsletters.

    Objective 4: Evaluate changes in farmer understanding, intentions, and practices

    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.