83rd Annual

Monday, 10 February 2003
Development of a climatological database for dryland agricultural research
H. Scott Oviatt, USDA/ARS, Pendleton, OR
Poster PDF (2.1 MB)
The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center located in Pendleton, Oregon, has installed, and is operating a meteorological monitoring network in northeastern Oregon. The network has been established in order to support agricultural research in dryland farming regions of the Columbia Plateau in Eastern Oregon and Washington.

The goal of the monitoring is to construct an accurate, long-term database that can be used in determining climatic effects on crop development, wind and water erosion, and sustainable agricultural systems. These data are used in validating mathematical models, determining cropping system water use efficiency, and studying plant stress (and associated disease development). The data are also used to identify the effects of weather patterns that impact crop yields, and land-use decisions associated with developing sustainable agricultural systems that promote soil and water conservation.

The Columbia Plateau is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, loess-covered rolling basalt hills with varying soil depths from 1 foot to 15 feet, annual rainfall varying 6 inches to 25 inches, and elevation ranging from 500 feet to 3000 feet above sea level. This complex terrain often induces extremely variable weather patterns in relatively short spatial distances, thus increasing the necessity for measuring/collecting meteorological data at selected points and developing predictive tools to interpolate between known data points. Through the use of the data collected from the network, researchers hope to develop strategies to assist the agricultural community (and other land-use institutions/agencies) in identifying water availability in the soil stratum for use by agriculture under non-irrigated conditions.

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