This spring in California several orchards around Solano and nearby counties sported a new look: lush carpets of mixed grasses growing as tall as 3ft beneath the trees’ bare branches. By summer the scene will change as farmers grow and harvest their nut crops, but the work of the grasses will continue unseen. Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as old as dirt, is taking root in California.
California’s Salinas Valley, one of the world’s most productive farming areas, faces a groundwater emergency. The problem is seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers, which are the region’s lifeblood. The issue has been understood for a long time.
The last time water was this scarce in the Klamath Basin, a rugged agricultural area straddling the California-Oregon border, farmers clashed with U.S. marshals and opened locked canal gates with blowtorches so they could irrigate. … Now the stage is set for another round of conflict on the Klamath River, the result of a dry winter and a court ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco.
There’s a budding industry that’s trying to solve the problem of the limp lettuce and tasteless tomatoes in America’s supermarkets. It’s full of technologists who grow crops in buildings instead of outdoors, short-cutting the need to prematurely harvest produce for a bumpy ride often thousands of miles to consumers in colder climes.
Residents of Carpinteria say they feel lucky to live in what they consider a slice of paradise. But change is in the air. And sometimes, they say, it stinks. That’s because marijuana has become a new crop of choice in the farmlands surrounding this tight-knit community of 14,000, which has long helped fuel the U.S. cut flower industry.
The Department of the Interior last week distributed a one-page framework for a long-term agreement aimed at resolving water issues in the Klamath Basin. Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on water and western resources, spent Monday and Tuesday meeting with Basin stakeholders about the one-page document, including water users and Klamath Tribes on Tuesday.
Western burrowing owls, valley elderberry longhorn beetles and giant garter snakes are among the dozen species protected under the 50-year conservation plan local governments will consider for approval over the next two months.
Freezing temperatures just as cherry blossoms began to break likely reduced this year’s crop, with farmers in different growing regions reporting lighter yields. Harvest in the southern San Joaquin Valley started in late April, according to the California Cherry Board, which said it expects the state’s cherry season will run through early June.
The federal Farm Bill has a powerful impact on the cost of farming—both organic and non-organic. A version of the bill introduced by the House Agriculture Committee would cut existing programs for organic farmers and increase their costs, while at the same time continuing to use taxpayer dollars to artificially lower the costs of non-organic food. Organic farmers shoulder expenses that their conventional counterparts push onto the public, like the costs of keeping air and waterways clean and protecting wildlife.
Reduced flows to the Klamath River have resulted in a die-off of between 500 to 1,000 fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates below the Keno Dam. The reduced flows to the Klamath River were issued to charge the A canal in preparation for water delivery to Basin irrigators, according to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office.
UC Riverside researchers believe they’ve figured out how bacteria spread a deadly disease that has wiped out 70 percent of Florida’s orange crop and is threatening to lay waste to California’s citrus industry.
Acequias evolved over 10,000 years in the deserts of the Middle East and were introduced into southern Spain by the Moors. Later, Spanish colonizers introduced acequias to the American Southwest, long before the land was claimed by the United States. Acequia is the irrigation conveyance system, the canal, all the infrastructure that delivers water from the river, the Rio Grande, to the fields.
Officials on Thursday celebrated $5 million worth of upgrades to the water recycling plant serving the agricultural industry in the greater Watsonville area. A 1.5-million-gallon water storage tank was added to the Watsonville Area Water Recycling Facility on Clearwater Lane’s existing 1-million-gallon storage capacity, in addition to installation of two new distribution pumps and other energy efficiency improvements.
Several years ago, California farmers, including many in the Valley, began receiving threatening letters from the State Water Resources Control Board. The demand? Provide clean drinking water to local residents with nitrate contaminated private wells or face punitive legal action.
For every dollar consumers spend on food, only 7.8 cents goes to farmers — a record low that reflects shifts in how Americans eat, according to the Department of Agriculture. Where once consumers cooked most of their meals at home, they’re now buying just as many at cafes and restaurants.
Local tribes and environmental groups declared victory Tuesday after a federal judge shot down a bid by Klamath Basin farmers and water districts to block dam releases meant to prevent fish disease outbreaks. Basin irrigators argued the rain and snow fall in 2017 reduced the chance of fish disease outbreaks this year, but said drought conditions in the basin this year could cause significant economic impacts to their region if water deliveries are delayed by the dam releases.
A cancer-causing chemical has been found in the drinking water at Grimmway Farms facilities in Kern County, potentially endangering some 1,500 employees. The company is mitigating the issue by bringing in bottled water for employees to drink.
Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest unresolved water problems in the state.
On Feb. 7, four Sacramento LAFCo commissioners began unraveling of decades of agricultural protection, orderly urban growth and open space planning that relied on a firm urban limit at Elk Grove’s southern boundary. … The commission adopted a statement prepared by staff to dismiss 22 significant and unavoidable impacts that cannot be fully mitigated, including loss of farmland and open space and further groundwater depletion.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board has no business Wednesday reversing course and committing its ratepayers to pay a minimum of $650 million to help fund Gov. Jerry Brown’s $16 billion twin tunnels project. It’s a Southern California and Central Valley water grab that won’t provide a drop of new water to California’s water supply.