University of California

Water bond should include funding to teach water efficiency to farmers

If California approves a water bond, part of it should be used to pay for farmer outreach, education and assistance programs for on-farm water-use best management practices, according to a study released this week by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the California Climate and Agriculture Network.

In a story written by J.N. Sbranti for the Modesto Bee, Roger Duncan, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Stanislaus County, said, "There is a real need to help farmers understand how to use their low-volume irrigation systems." He added that helping farmers fine-tune their watering systems “could make a difference” with efficiency.

Duncan said plant moisture monitoring systems do help determine when crops need water, but some monitoring devices, such as pressure chambers, are “time consuming and labor intensive” to use,  therefore they are not used much. Many other monitoring systems are automated.

Low-volume systems – such as micro-sprinklers that deliver water precisely where a tree can absorb it – don't necessary use less water per year than old-fashioned flood irrigation, Duncan explained. Instead, he said, they provide water in a way that's easier for the plant to use.

David Runsten, policy director for CAFF, said that techniques in evapotranspiration and soil moisture monitoring could make a significant difference in the amount of water applied to crops.

“Agriculture can do more to optimize its use of water, and the government can help them,” Runsten said. “We have to get everybody to be as careful as they can be with water.”

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Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 2:01 PM
Tags: drought (122), irrigation (12)

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