Monday, September 8, 2008

Less Water, Fewer Problems

More efficient use of water by agriculture could produce as much water as between 3 and 20 new dams would – while producing more crops, a new report by the Pacific Institute has found.

This report supports what we’ve been saying all along: conservation, not dam construction, is the best answer to the Delta’s dismal problems. Essentially, by applying proven conservation measures, we can do “More with Less,” as the report’s title urges.

About 80% of the Delta’s water flows to agricultural uses. Here are some of the think tank’s ideas for turning down the spigot for agriculture – without turning off agriculture’s production:

  • Better Irrigation Scheduling: Watering at key times actually benefits a crop more than simply giving the crop additional water, the study says.

  • Shifting Some Crops: Farmers could trade high-water-demand crops, such as field crops, for crops that use less water, like vegetables.

  • Improved Crop Management: Giving certain crops less water actually can increase production, the report states.

  • More Efficient Water Technology: Drip irrigation and sprinklers are a better bet for most California crops than traditional “flood irrigation,” according to the report.

A national leader in agricultural production, California grows an estimated 15% of the nation’s entire agriculture export. Wouldn’t it be nice to lead the nation in agricultural water efficiency as well?


SF Chronicle: Study Finds California Can Cut Farm Water Use

AP: Farmers urged to save water, shift emphasis

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