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Crosscurrents

Dry farming: a technique for a water scarce future

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Photo by Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis, 2014
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Dry fields and bare groves looking west toward the Coast Range, near San Joaquin, Calif.

 

Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown stepped up to a podium in a dry, grassy field in Eastern California. He took a deep breath, and made a landmark statement.

"We’re in a historic drought, and that demands unprecedented action. It’s for that reason that I’m issuing an executive order demanding substantial water reduction across our state."

The order forces California’s urban areas to use25% less water. If it happens that will save the state about 500 million gallons of water. But do you know what would make a much bigger difference? If the restrictions applied to farmers – something the governor did not take on.

Agriculture consumes about 80% of California’s water. It makes sense – the stateproduces the most food in the nation, and farming takes water. But some farmers think it can take less.

Our friends at the show "Making Contact" took on that concept a few years back. Joaquin Palomino visited California’s central valley – where farmers are getting a sneak preview of what much of the country, and the world, can expect to see in the next few decades: increasing water scarcity.

So how to handle a dry outlook ahead?

Click on the player above to to learn how a handful of farmers are finding new ways to make every drop count.