An evaluation of the economic impacts of reducing soil erosion and groundwater pollution in non-irrigated farming systems of northeastern Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gb19f783z

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  • Increases in food demand, favorable commodity markets and drive towards increasing productivity at a greater economic efficiency have accelerated negative agricultural externalities, particularly erosion and water quality. The potential impact of these externalities on environmental quality and human health prompted an examination of current and potential production strategies on four important dryfarmed soil associations--Walla Walla, Pilot Rock, Ritzville and Athena Soils--in the Umatilla County area of Oregon. The objective was to evaluate the economic and environmental costs of reducing soil erosion and leaching through implementing strategies that minimize soil loss and (or) nitrate leaching or offer some trade-offs between the pollutants. Four models--the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), Micro-computer Budgeting Management System (MBMS), Nitrate Leaching and Economic Analysis Program (NLEAP) and Multi-Objective Linear programming (MOP)--were employed to accomplish the study objectives. The results revealed that production strategies that focused on reducing only one pollutant generally exacerbated the other. The mixed objective strategies achieved a simultaneous reduction in both soil erosion and leaching. Once either pollutant had been substantially reduced, further reductions certainly increased the rate of generation of the other. On Walla Walla soil, the most cost effective erosion reducing strategies for winter wheat production included those that involved use of chisel plow for primary tillage under standard conservation practice. Large leachate reductions in winter wheat production were possible by using strategies that involved use of disk plowing for primary tillage followed by chisel plow for secondary tillage and a split fertilizer application. On Pilot Rock soil, production process that involved use of sweep plow for primary tillage with a one time spring fertilizer application and (or) with more farm acreage in spring barley production were least cost strategies that reduced leaching considerably. Soil loss and leaching rates on Ritzville soils were very low, indicating that this soil may not be subject to soil erosion or leaching problems. For Athena soils, least cost strategies that greatly reduced erosion involved use of chisel or disk plow under conservation practices. No strategy was identified to reduce leaching significantly.
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