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Oct-12-2020 21:19printcomments

How Natural Disasters Affect Oregon's Agricultural Industry

More than 80% of the state experienced moderate to extreme drought conditions over the summer.

Wildfire Oregon
Fire in the sky, Salem, Oregon
Photo by Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - ​Agriculture and food production is a vital component of Oregon’s economy, and over 50% of local manufacturing companies in the Salem area are involved in food processing.

Fruit and vegetables grown in nurseries, especially potatoes, are the leading agricultural commodity, but cannabis farms are also making an impact on the industry.

With such a heavy reliance on vulnerable crops, increases in extreme weather and natural disasters can be devastating to farmers and the local economy.

Drought can cause irreparable damage to plants and is also a trigger for the wildfires that burned a million acres of land in Oregon this year. And, although heavy rain can come as a relief, it can also cause its own problems for farmers and gardeners.

As well as taking out insurance against unexpected events, anyone working on the land needs practical skills and sturdy equipment to be ready to deal with a range of working conditions.

Preventing Damage from Drought

Farmers, nursery stock producers and landscapers all need to cope with extremes in weather and the variations they can cause to ground quality. According to the US Drought Monitor, more than 80% of the state was experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions over the summer.

Extended dry periods can cause damage to landscape vegetation and cultivated crops, and overseeing the distribution of water resources becomes a priority.

To manage large areas of cracked and hardened ground, farmers and landscapers can benefit from sturdy and reliable compact vehicles that are adaptable to any terrain.

On very dry ground, a nonaggressive pattern on replacement tracks for Bobcat T190 will give low ground pressure to avoid further damaging already dried out ground cover and grass.

Coping with Destructive Wildfires

Severe drought conditions were a major contributing factor to the recent wildfires throughout the state. Unfortunately, this year extensive wildfires destroyed several hemp farms just as the harvest was about to start.

Although cannabis does not currently appear on the list of Oregon’s agricultural commodities, it is thought that it will be added in the next couple of years now that it has been officially recognized as a crop.

For many cannabis farmers, this was their first year of cultivation, and those producers without adequate and appropriate insurance will be coping with considerable losses.

Preparing for Heavy Rain

A storm system bringing heavy rain recently helped to clear smoke from wildfires. Rain comes as a relief after wildfires or periods of drought but it can also bring its own issues in the form of flash flooding and thunderstorms. With a rise in the number of extreme rainfall events, farmers need to be prepared and adaptable.

Flooding can cause a rapid loss of topsoil, so planting high risk crops such as potatoes should be avoided on sites that are particularly vulnerable to flooding.

In an area heavily reliant on agriculture and food production, severe weather and unexpected natural disasters can be very damaging. Farmers and landscapers in Salem and the surrounding area are increasingly having to manage their land in preparation for all a range of extreme conditions.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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