Completed in the spring of 2012, the BC Agriculture Climate Change Adaptation Risk & Opportunity Assessment evaluates how changes to the climate may impact agricultural production for key commodities in various regions of BC.
The assessment generated five regional and commodity specific reports including a “Snapshot Report” focusing on wine grape and tree fruit production systems in the Okanagan region.
Building on the findings of the assessment, the Okanagan Region Adaptation Strategies plan was completed in the spring of 2016. A summary of the plan is also available. The plan identifies regionally specific collaborative strategies and actions that will enhance agriculture’s ability to adapt to projected changes.
$300,000 in Growing Forward funding is available for eligible collaborative projects identified in the plan. The Okanagan Adaptation Strategies plan is currently being implemented in partnership with a number of funders and local organizations. Implementation is being overseen by a local working group including:
- Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
- BC Cherry Association
- BC Fruit Growers’ Association
- BC Grape Growers’ Association
- BC Ministry of Agriculture
- BC Wine Grape Council
- Certified Organic Associations of BC
- Regional District of Central Okanagan
- Regional District of North Okanagan
- Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen
- Southern Okanagan Stockmens’ Association
Okanagan – Decision Support Tool to Improve Local Tree Fruit Management
|Project Lead||Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program|
Download and read the project summary as a PDF: New Tool Gives Okanagan Tree Fruit Growers Edge on Pest Management.
As average annual temperatures increase, the range and prevalence of insect pests and diseases are anticipated to shift, and new pests are expected to emerge. Well-informed management decisions will be increasingly important as the need for treatments – usually sprays (conventional or organic) – will increase, as will the costs of pest management and the likelihood of pests developing resistance. As the climate changes, it will also no longer be effective for producers to rely on a calendar, or previous years’ timing, to make management decisions.
This project will take a successful pest management decision support tool developed by Washington State University and adapt this tool for the Okanagan context. The system has been in operation in Washington State for nearly a decade, and is highly valued by Washington producers. The tool will have a clear, simple interface that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or phone, and will be programmed for conventional and organic management recommendations, allowing producers to choose the treatments that are right for their operation.
Okanagan – Agricultural Water Supply Status Communication Pilot
|Project Lead||Okanagan Basin Water Board|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Okanagan Basin Water Board|
As warmer and drier summers increase the vulnerability of local water supplies to drought, the need for water purveyors to convey timely information about the state of the local water supply to their agricultural water users is increasingly vital. Producers rely on this information to prepare for, and respond to, local conditions and to enact water conservation measures. The Okanagan Basin’s water supply is managed by over 50 different water purveyors, making drought communication between provincial, municipal and local water authorities and their agricultural water users complex. Discrepancies between provincial drought messaging and water supplies at the local purveyor level can lead to confusion among agricultural water users about the actual state of the local water supply.
To address the challenges of drought status communications, the Okanagan Agricultural Water Supply Status Communication Pilot Project worked with two pilot water purveyors in the Okanagan (Greater Vernon Water and the City of Penticton) during the 2017 growing season to develop, test and assess new communications messages and mechanisms between purveyors and their agricultural water users. In addition to working through traditional communications channels (e.g. local media, purveyor websites, water-turn on letters, etc.) agricultural producers could register to receive electronic communications messages from their water provider (via email, text message or voice message). A Communications Checklist and Key Messages Document was developed to assist purveyors with developing and sending out communications. To help facilitate the adoption of effective and consistent methods for communicating with agricultural water users about water status throughout the Okanagan Basin, these documents, along with the pilot project Summary Report, are now available to water purveyors across the region. Okanagan water purveyors can also work with the Okanagan Basin Water Board to obtain free access to the E-alert software.
Okanagan – Integrated Farm Water Management Planning Pilot Project
|Project Lead||BC Fruit Growers' Association|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture|
As Okanagan summers become warmer and drier — and there is less water available during critical irrigation windows — producers will be required to adapt their water management practices to suit changing conditions. Expectations for increasing frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events may also contribute to site-specific flooding, erosion and run-off management challenges. During the Okanagan Adaptation Workshops, producers identified increasing the availability of water management tools and information as a high priority, with a particular emphasis on the need for on-farm support.
The Integrated Farm Water Planning Pilot Project tested an on-farm water planning process (and toolkit) with 16 Okanagan producers from a range of different commodities, facing a variety of water-management challenges on their farms. The planning process and toolkit consisted of a series of modules that examined current and future water challenges and opportunities and which covered the full range of water management issues that producers may face (e.g., supply, irrigation, drainage, water quality, etc.), while also considering climate change impacts. This toolkit was originally developed and tested in the Cowichan region and was adapted for the Okanagan context. Producers who participated in the pilot worked with a water field-agent (through phone interviews and an on-site visit) to identify the key water issues on their farm. Producers then received a customized Farm Water Use Plan that documented their farm’s unique water-management considerations, along with a series of strategies and resources to address these challenges and opportunities.
The report provides a detailed summary of the pilot process, summarizes the key water management challenges faced by Okanagan producers (and associated recommendations) and includes an evaluation of the pilot project from the producer’s perspective.
Okanagan – Vineyard Water Use Efficiency & Knowledge Transfer Project
|Project Lead||BC Wine Grape Council|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Wine Grape Council|
As Okanagan summers become warmer and drier and precipitation patterns change, sustainable water management practices will support the agricultural sector’s resilience and competitiveness. This project is working with the Okanagan wine grape sector to develop and deliver a suite of sustainable water management tools and resources, while creating a shared understanding of current issues and opportunities around sustainable water use.
The first phase of the project will compile existing research and knowledge — about vineyard soil water conservation and water use efficiency technologies and practices — into a State of Knowledge & Technology report. This report will inform the development of guidance materials including fact sheets (or similar resource) that highlights case studies from the Okanagan and beyond. The materials will be written in a non-technical style – designed to be practical and well-suited for field application.
The second phase of the project will develop a simple digital performance metric tool that will enable wine grape growers to benchmark, compare, and communicate their water use performance. The guidance materials and performance metric tool will be delivered to the industry through a webinar, and two field-day workshops hosted at local vineyards to showcase sustainable water use practices at their sites.
A summary report will be prepared at the end of the project. The report will include an assessment of lessons learned and an evaluation of the project, including possible steps for adapting the approach and/or materials for other commodity groups.
- Okanagan – Vineyard Establishment & Maintenance (2018 factsheet) (535 KB pdf)
- Okanagan – Vineyard Irrigation: The Full Cost of Water (2017 factsheet) (951 KB pdf)
- Okanagan – Vineyard Irrigation: Tools to Validate (2017 factsheet) (1 MB pdf)
- Okanagan – Vineyard Water-Use Efficiency: State of Knowledge & Technology (2018 report) (10 MB pdf)
- Okanagan – Vineyard Water-Use Efficiency: State of Knowledge & Technology (2018 summary) (334 KB pdf)
- Okanagan – Vineyard Water Metric (2018 toolkit) (910 KB xlsx)
- Okanagan – Vineyard Water Metric Supplement (2018 toolkit) (475 KB xlsx)
Okanagan – Planning & Information Exchange for Wildfire Impact Reduction
|Project Lead||Southern Interior Stockmen's Association|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Cattle Industry Development Council, Regional District Central Okanagan|
|Other Partners||Regional District Okanagan Similkameen|
The Okanagan has experienced several severe wildfire seasons over the past decade and with climate change projections including more prolonged warm and dry periods during summer, as well as more extreme wildfire weather (combined effect of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and precipitation), it is anticipated that the number and severity of wildfires will increase in the future.
Wildfires threaten immediate agricultural production capacity including livestock, range and crop health and agricultural infrastructure. Due to the potential for negative impacts to agriculture, addressing wildfire risks was identified as a priority for adaptation actions in the Okanagan. This project focused on wildfire risk reduction both at the farm-level and at the response agency/broader communications level.
To assist producers in fire-smarting their operations and preparing for a wildfire emergency, this project produced a farm-level Agricultural Wildfire Preparedness & Mitigation Workbook & Guide (combining the strongest elements of similar farm-level resources developed for the Cariboo and the Cowichan, and enhancing the content with new modules). The workbook and guide can be used by all producers – large and small, from all commodities – and consists of a series of modules focusing on planning/activities to undertake before a wildfire, during a wildfire and after a wildfire. Okanagan producers can access an Okanagan version of the workbook and guide which includes Okanagan specific information, while producers from across BC can access the provincial workbook and guide.
Through extensive consultation with the agricultural community (including a focus group), the project also produced a Discussion Document that identifies challenges (and solutions) relating to communications and information flow between producers and response agencies, before and during wildfire events. Through the consultation process, it was identified that pre-season communication and preparedness planning offers the greatest potential for implementable solutions in the near term that may start to address some of the other communication issues experienced during wildfire (particularly around suppression operations, evacuation and permitted re-entry protocols). The report identifies impactful solutions with the greatest potential for local implementation, as well as activities that are driven by the agricultural sector or that directly engage producers, with nine actions prioritized for possible near-term implementation.
Okanagan – Invasive Species Website
|Project Lead||Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS)|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture|
Invasive plant species create challenges for producers by interfering with cropping systems and by creating health hazards for livestock, while invasive pests can damage crops and reduce yields. Climate change will alter the range and prevalence of invasive species in the Okanagan, adding to management complexity and costs for producers.
Previously, the Okanagan Valley did not have a centralized system to share information pertaining to invasive species identification and management and as a result, producers (and the public) had difficulty accessing the information that they required to identify and manage invasive plants and pests. The Okanagan Invasive Species Online website (www.oiso.ca) now serves as a valley-wide one-stop-shop for local invasive species information. The website is designed for the agriculture sector and allows producers to search for invasive species by commodity, plant or pest name, category and plant/flower colour. The site also features an Ask an Expert function that allows users to fill out a form and be connected with an expert in their area who can assist with identification and treatment options.
Visit the website: www.oiso.ca
Related Farm Innovator Projects (learn more)
Vented Orchard Covers to Protect Cherries Against Rain & Hail
|Project Lead||Coral Beach Farms Ltd.|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Coral Beach Farms Ltd|
A BC cherry orchard tested vented orchard covers as a tool to protect tender fruit against rain and hail damage. The technology was pioneered in Europe, where it has been used to substantially reduce rain and hail related fruit damage, and increase water use efficiency in orchards. The project evaluated the risks and the economic benefits of using vented orchard covers (in combination with wind machines) under current growing conditions in the Okanagan. Project findings will assist producers to assess the potential for this technology to reduce vulnerability to impacts associated with climate change.
The evaluation compared fruit quality and water use efficiency for cherries grown inside and outside the vented covers, gathered data over three years and provides a cost-benefit analysis that has been shared with other growers through publications, site visits and presentations.
Economic, Social & Environmental Benefits of Riparian Rehabilitation as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
|Project Lead||University of British Columbia|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, UBC Research Funding|
|Other Partners||Alderson Creek Rehabilitation Environmental Society, BC Cattlemen Association: Farmland-Riparian Interface Stewardship Program|
Natural watersheds are inherently resilient and adaptable in the face of altered conditions. Rehabilitation of degraded riparian corridors running through agricultural land is important because natural stream systems provide considerable buffering capacity to absorb the impacts of floods, heat waves, infestations, and other extreme events, thereby offering adaptive capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
This project assessed a group riparian restoration process (supported through the Environmental Farm Plan program) that involves producers in the Alderson Creek drainage in the Fortune Creek Watershed near Armstrong, BC. The project assessed baseline conditions of two creeks (a control and a creek that would undergo restoration) in order to assess biophysical conditions before and after implementation of best management practices.
The project quantified social, economic and bio-physical variables relevant to the project as well as stakeholder attitudes, opinions, and knowledge exchange. The findings were communicated through two workshops (toward the end of the project), producer bulletins (fact sheets), academic publications and media.
- Barriers & Opportunities for Riparian Rehabilitation via Collaborative Co-Management (2018 factsheet) (654 KB pdf)
- Climate Change Adaptation: What Does It Mean to the Small Landowner? (2018 factsheet) (1 MB pdf)
- Social Costs & Benefits of a Group Environmental Farm Plan: Alderson Creek, BC (2018 factsheet) (572 KB pdf)
- Land Management Practices & Their Effect on Stream Health on Small Farms & Ranches (2018 factsheet) (407 KB pdf)
- Economic, Social & Environmental Benefits of Riparian Rehabilitation as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2018 appendix 1) (10 MB pdf)
- Economic, Social & Environmental Benefits of Riparian Rehabilitation as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2018 appendix 2) (1 MB pdf)
- Economic, Social & Environmental Benefits of Riparian Rehabilitation as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2018 appendix 3) (2 MB pdf)
- Economic, Social & Environmental Benefits of Riparian Rehabilitation as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2018 report) (5 MB pdf)
Climate Change Impact Risk Assessment Tool for Ponds used as Livestock Water Sources
|Location||Okanagan-Thompson, Cariboo, Boundary and Kootenay|
|Project Lead||Thompson Rivers University|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture|
|Other Partners||Urban Systems; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations; Tranquille Livestock Association.|
Over the last century climate change has contributed to the loss of a large percentage of the world’s wetlands. In British Columbia’s semi-arid grassland ecosystems, there has been reduction in the size and number of cattle watering ponds. These ponds are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change that may include increasing air temperature and evaporation from ponds, along with decreased snowfall and earlier stream flow timing, which impact the available water supply in ponds.
This project will develop the framework for a demonstration tool for identifying pond types by groundwater/surface water interactions. The degree of sensitivity to climate change impacts is linked to a pond’s connectivity to groundwater. The demonstration tool will allow producers to identify the risk level associated with ponds that are important to grazing management. The project will also produce a series of maps, covering BC’s southern interior grasslands, which will use projected climate change data to identify areas at high risk of future pond loss. Knowledge of climate change impacts on ponds will empower producers to direct their resources to areas of high risk and explore options for proactive water management strategies.
The demonstration tool framework, maps and project reports will be shared for feedback via workshops, meetings and presentations for producers in both Kamloops and Kelowna. Access to the maps will be available as a layer file in Google Earth, in producer publications and on websites frequented by producers.
Expanding Cherry Production in BC under Climate Change
|Location||Central Okanagan and North Okanagan|
|Project Lead||UBC Okanagan, Biology|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, private foundation|
|Other Partners||BC Cherry Association, BC Fruit Growers’ Association, BC Tree Fruits Cooperative, cherry producers, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre|
Download and read the project summary as a PDF: Evaluating Opportunities to Expand Cherry Production.
With warmer temperatures and a longer growing season, the areas suitable for production of sweet cherries in the BC interior are expanding. Cherry producers can increase cherry acreage (in particular for late season cherries) by expanding production northward and by growing at higher elevations. However, water availability and soil pathogen control are key production issues. This project will study and demonstrate orchard management practices for optimizing both water use and soil biological resilience in new orchards.
The project will assess the impact and cost effectiveness of soil amendments and selected irrigation methods on water use efficiency, soil water holding capacity, crop production and soil health in two new orchards and in an established orchard.
Researchers will use greenhouse bioassays of cherry seedlings in ‘old’ and ‘new’ soils to determine whether native soil microbes will enhance or restrict cherry production in the new areas, and whether soil amendments can maintain a high buffering capacity against pathogens in new, non-fumigated soils.
The project results will be shared with BC cherry growers via presentations at annual meetings, grower-focused print publications, fact sheets, labeling of demonstration plots, and field tours.
Climate Change Influence on Disease Control Patterns in the Okanagan Tree Fruit Industry
|Project Lead||Canadian Agricultural Services|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Paloverde Environmental Ltd|
|Other Partners||agriculture producers, BC Tree Fruit Company, UBC Okanagan|
Climate change is causing an increase in annual temperatures (including an increase in winter minimum temperatures), shifting precipitation patterns and drier summer conditions. These effects give rise to changes in agriculture pest and disease populations including: increase in winter survival, introduction of new pests and diseases and changing ranges/distribution of pests and diseases. This can result in increased damage to crops, impacts to crop health, increased management costs and complexity, as well as decreasing effectiveness of pest models used for pest management.
This project will coordinate weather and disease data with a mapping software program allowing this relationship to be displayed geographically. This will visually convey information about disease distribution, its relative severity, its chemical resistance and its relationship to other factors such as microclimate, soils and pest management techniques. As information is gathered throughout the project, patterns will become clearer and more accurate. This project will establish a baseline for the distribution of three key disease areas: tree cankers, general fruit rot of stone fruits and soil diseases. These pathogen parameters will also be tied to soil analysis data and tree status data.
This information will be made available to the general grower population through their farm computers, through the growers cooperatives and through their independent field monitors. Broad recommendations will be summarized into reports and pest management recommendations. Project outcomes and recommendations will also be directly shared with grower groups, at meetings for extension personnel, and through industry magazines.
Optimization of Water Use in Vineyards in the Okanagan Using Precision Irrigation
|Project Lead||Le Vieux Pin Winery/ Enotecca Resort|
|Other Partners||BC Grape Growers Association, BC Wine Grape Council|
Climate change will result in longer periods of drought and more frequent periods of very high temperatures. These factors, paired with potential limitations on water supply at certain times of the year, will require that producers in the southern Okanagan obtain more precise information about their soils (structure, water retention capacity, macro and micro element composition) in order to better manage irrigation and fertilization practices. This project evaluates techniques that allow for customized irrigation of different sections of a vineyard based on varying soil characteristics within the vineyard.
The project will begin by conducting a detailed analysis of soil properties and will map these differences across 5 vineyards. Irrigation equipment will then be installed for precise and timed delivery of water and nutrients specific to the mapped soil conditions. The project will monitor the total volume of water used for irrigation in the vineyards, and compare this to an evaluation of the quality and quantity of production in the same vineyards.
The project will demonstrate how to reduce the amount of water used in a vineyard, by enhancing the application and the delivery of irrigation water and by controlling the amount delivered according to the soil/plant requirements. This also results in preparation for potential drought conditions by having an irrigation system designed for efficiency and precision.
Project findings will be shared through a final report made widely available to the grape and wine sector, through a field day at the Enotecca vineyards to share and demonstrate the project, and through presentations and a workshop at The Viticulture and Ecology conference in 2016 and in 2017.