Agroclimatic hazards of the Fort Rock Basin : perceptions and mitigation strategies among cow-calf operators and cash-crop agriculturalists Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/hh63sx99s

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  • A recent surge in the development of irrigated agriculture in the Fort Rock Basin of the Oregon High Desert has resulted in two principal types of agricultural operations in the area: cow-calf operators and cash-crop agriculturalists. The agroclimatic hazards associated with the present situation and the implications of those hazards for public policy are the topic of this research. A lack of sufficient summer precipitation for field crops and freezing temperatures during the small grain growing season are cited as relevant to the past failure of dry farming under the Revised Homestead Act of 1906. The present situation is characterized by attempts to mitigate the hazards of the past through the use of irrigation technology and/or adoption of a mixed cow-calf and irrigated hay type of operation. A normative comparison of the Fort Rock Basin with other areas of commercial agriculture in eastern Oregon and Washington shows the hazard of freezing temperatures during the alfalfa growing season to be high. Settlement motivations, natural hazard perceptions and mitigation strategies are examined by means of a survey of resident agricultural operators in the area. The survey was a complete census of the population. Cash-crop operators appear to be motivated principally by favorable finance terms related to establishing an operation in the area. Cow-calf operators show a greater emphasis on quality of life as a motivating factor. Both groups gave little initial emphasis to climatic conditions in establishing an operation, but subsequently indicated climatic hazards to be a major source of economic loss. The principal hazard mitigation strategies of the two groups stressed either reliance on irrigation technology and acceptance of the risk of freezing temperatures during the cropping season, or combining hay production with raising livestock.
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