Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Groundwater for the future: Sustainable Conservation’s partnership with the Almond Board of California

Farms are encouraged to accept flood flows from farms to help recharge groundwater.

Farms are encouraged to accept flood flows from storms to help recharge groundwater.

From Sustainable Conservation:

After a harrowing string of dry years, California pines for wet weather. With summer in the rearview mirror, our farms, communities, and wildlife sure could use a hydrating boost this winter.

The Golden State’s record-breaking drought has prompted widely voiced concerns about farming’s use of water. At the same time, our agricultural sector helps
feed the nation. How can California conserve and protect water while providing sustenance to millions?

Sustainable Conservation has a plan to marry these pivotal actions. Expanding upon
our work in the Kings River Basin, we’re mobilizing San Joaquin Valley farmers to accept flood flows from pending storms onto active cropland to help replenish groundwater – California’s underground “savings account” for parched seasons.

And, we’re thrilled to announce a remarkable new partner in our outreach: the 
Almond Board of California. The key group – which represents nearly 7,000 almond growers and processors on approximately one million acres throughout the state – has committed to being part of California’s groundwater solution with us.

With forecasts calling for strong El Niño rains, we’re just in time. Throughout the arid months of summer and into the fall, Sustainable Conservation has been working diligently to line up willing farmers with the right soils to demonstrate our strategy as soon as precipitation returns.

The technique more closely mimics the natural floodplain process of rivers spreading seasonally across the valley and recharging over-tapped aquifers below. By allowing waterways to stream back onto agricultural lands with sandy, permeable soils and applying water at rates compatible with crop production, we can also reduce the risk of flooding to downstream communities.

“Both the Almond Board and Sustainable Conservation believe that a healthy environment and farming sector can only be achieved through collaboration and uniting around common goals.”
Ashley Boren, Executive Director, Sustainable Conservation

Through nearly 100 innovative Almond Board-funded research projects since 1994, California almond growers have incorporated irrigation practices that reduced the amount of water needed to grow each pound of almonds by 33%*.

As part of our partnership, a team of Almond Board-funded UC Davis researchers will monitor three of the ten demonstration plots we are selecting in the San Joaquin Valley to test on-farm recharge this winter. Findings will assist in identifying the orchard practices and recharge conditions best suited for almond tree health, and the Almond Board will map where additional orchards can be part of replenishing our subterranean stores.

Bold alliances are needed now more than ever, and we’re proud to join forces with this vital industry player to build a powerful buffer against future droughts. Ever the solution match-maker, we’re hoping to unite storm with soil very soon to the benefit of our Golden State’s environment and people.

“Almond growers understand and share the concerns of many Californians about agriculture’s impact on state and local water resources, especially during this prolonged drought. Almond growers are part of the fabric of their local communities, often living on the land that their families have farmed for generations. Their own families, communities, and neighbors are equally impacted by groundwater concerns. These efforts focus on leveraging a significant attribute of the California Almond industry – the land dedicated to growing almonds – to continue our efforts to do our part to realize a sustainable California water supply.”
Richard Waycott, President and CEO, Almond Board of California

Link to Sustainable Conservation

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