First Advisor

Martin Lafrenz

Date of Publication

Spring 6-6-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Earth, Environment, & Society


Earth, Environment, & Society




No-tillage -- Oregon -- Fifteenmile Creek Watershed -- Case studies, Herbicides -- Environmental aspects -- Oregon -- Fifteenmile Creek Watershed -- Case studies, Soils -- Quality -- Oregon -- Fifteenmile Creek Watershed -- Case studies, Agricultural conservation -- Case studies, Soil conservation -- Case studies, Agriculture and state -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 176 pages)


A variety of conservation trends have gained and lost favor throughout the years in agriculture, with U.S. Farm Bills often influencing what conservation practices are implemented by farming communities throughout the U.S. This dissertation focuses on the unintended consequences of conservation management practices in the Fifteenmile Watershed of Wasco County, Oregon. Specifically, I seek to address how farmer enrollment in various conservation techniques, loosely defined as no-till agriculture, has affected soil and water quality through the increased use of herbicide, and subsequently rendered ecological and human health vulnerable. Using a critical physical geography framework, I address both the biophysical factors and social structures that have co-produced changes in soil and water quality in the study area of this research through intensive physical field data collection, spatial analysis, social surveys, and interviews. I also demonstrate how three neoliberal sets of processes: market-friendly reregulation; state rollback and deregulation; and the creation of self-sufficient individuals and communities, have transformed the human socio-environmental relationship to agriculture. These processes have had significant effects on the policies governing how soil and water quality are managed on both a state and national level, and have created a dependence on enrollment in conservation practices that may ultimately prove counterproductive for long term goals of environmental protection and sustainability.


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