Standing in the Way of Control : Small Farmers, Water Use, and Technology Adoption in Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/r207tr69g

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  • In recent years, several interrelated forces—prolonged drought, growing populations, height-ened environmental protections, sustained agricultural use, and hydrologic alterations due to climate change—have increased pressure on water users in the Western United States, where the agricultural sector accounts for up to 90% of total water withdrawals. Technology im-provements developed since the 1950s have increased irrigation efficiency on many farms, and more recently networked technologies have promised to transform agriculture again, through advanced analytics, in-field sensors, and other telecommunications technology. While economies of scale and access to capital have spurred growth on larger farms, imple-mentation on smaller farms has lagged. This thesis is based on research initially proposed by Intel Labs and uses ethnographic interviews with farmers and policymakers in Oregon to un-derstand the both the barriers to technology implementation and the underlying factors asso-ciated with on-farm water use and technology adoption in Oregon. An analysis of interview data reveals several significant barriers to technology implementation, many of which are re-lated to the perceptions small farmers hold about themselves, their community, technology, regulation, water use, and the future. This thesis also examines the interconnections between Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and networked technology implementa-tion, and examines the utility of that policy framework to explain the challenges faced by small farmers as stakeholders in relation to water management decisions in Oregon.
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