Soils and Resource Management in the Okanagan Valley

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The Okanagan Valley is a distinctive north-south trending physiographic feature in southern interior British Columbia. Okanagan Lake stretches more than 100 km from Vernon in the north to Penticton in the south, where the lake is drained by the Okanagan River as it flows into Washington State and eventually to the Columbia River. The climate features dry summers with abundant sunshine. Significant sources of water drain from the surrounding forested plateau and uplands. Valley bottom areas and gentle lower slopes of the valley walls make up some of the most productive agricultural landscapes in Canada. Tree fruits, viticulture and forage production are the dominant agricultural operations, and they share this desirable landscape with many lakeshore communities and urban areas that have experienced significant growth in recent years. The vibrant economy of the region also depends significantly on several large wood processing facilities supported by harvesting the productive forests of the adjacent uplands. Despite the current benign climate, healthy production systems, and vibrant economy, the effects of a changing climate are expected to introduce new challenges in this region. During the field tour, we will visit a “new” large cherry planting on soils previously under forage production. The site will be used to discuss the industry perspective on planting in non-traditional areas and collaborative research trials between the University of British Columbia-Okanagan and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC). We will hear about the Okanagan Basin Water Board and how water is managed in this semi-arid region. We will also visit two research facilities, the federal Summerland Research and Development Centre and the BC government Kalamalka Research Station in Vernon where ongoing research is providing information to support the agricultural and forest industries, respectively. At these facilities, aspects of soil and water management will be discussed and field trials will be viewed. No trip to the Okanagan would be complete without a stop at a winery. Mission Hill Winery will host a session on Day 2 where we will discuss soil and climate conditions that support the local wine industry and we’ll make sure all participants have access to ample wine to taste and enjoy over the weekend. On our way to Kamloops we will have a stop to provide an overview of the geologic history, landscape formation processes, and soil conditions in the southern part of the Thompson Plateau. And describe recent research on improving soil inventories in the region.
  • Tour commences: Saturday (May 14, 2016) morning in Kelowna on the campus of the University of BC Okanagan (located 5 minutes from Kelowna airport); Tour ends: Sunday (May 15, 2016) at the Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops in order to make the Opening Social Event of the CSSS-PRSSS conference on Sunday evening.
  • Tour Fee: $110 (includes all transportation and meals except breakfasts)
  • Accommodation: single rooms will be reserved for May 13 and 14 at UBCO in Kelowna for $65 per night. Tour participants must make their own arrangements. Register online at the below link and use group/block code: osss0516.
Note: Space is limited on this tour, so please register early. Pls note that (as of Apr 28th) there are still some open spots left in this tour. For more information contact Chuck Bulmer, at
Fig. 1.Map of the Okanagan Valley and its location in south central BC.

Fig. 1.Map of the Okanagan Valley and its location in south central BC.