Growing Returns

Selected tag(s): irrigation efficiency

How “fertigation” is helping this citrus grower beat the drought

WP_20150922_010A common misperception is that citrus season is in the summer, but peak citrus season is actually happening right now.

California grew over 90 percent of U.S. lemons last season, but the severe drought in 2015 caused a 9 percent dip in domestic lemon production compared to the previous growing season. This meant higher costs for farmers, consumers – and the planet.

In honor of peak citrus season, I asked Bakersfield citrus grower John S. Gless how he’s getting more crop per drop of fertilizer and water through “fertigation,” why efficiency and sustainability practices are good investments, and why land stewardship is a core part of farming. Read More »

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Five reasons to care about climate change and agriculture

Rebecca Shaw is an expert panelist at the 2014 Society of Environmental Journalists conference in New Orleans, talking about "Feeding Eight Billion People in a Warming World."

Rebecca Shaw is an expert panelist at the 2014 Society of Environmental Journalists conference in New Orleans, talking about “Feeding Eight Billion People in a Warming World.”

You may have seen the recent news about the potential impacts of drought on craft breweries like Lagunitas. Or the articulate Mother Jones headline – Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters. Talking about climate change in terms of beer and almond milk isn’t a bad strategy for capturing the attention of thirsty Americans, but it’s not just our favorite beverages that are at risk.

Climate change poses a number of potential threats to the global food system, namely because of the impacts to agriculture. Here are five reasons why everyone from beer drinkers in California to bean farmers in Latin America should care about climate change and agriculture.

1. Rising temperatures could burn a hole in your wallet. The 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that, with average temperature increases of 3 to 4ºC, we will see large negative impacts on farm yields and severe risks to food security. Not only are food markets sensitive to climate extremes, but food prices are expected to rise anywhere from 3 to 84 percent by 2050.

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The Colorado River Basin can’t afford to leave farmers out to dry

farmer irrigatingOn Colorado River Day, it’s worth considering how we can write the next chapter in the water story of the American West.

With the recent news that Lake Mead is at its lowest level in history, it’s impossible to ignore the trajectory of America’s hardest-working river. In the Colorado River Basin, we are already using more water annually than is being supplied by snowpack and other precipitation. The Bureau of Reclamation and others predict that this gap in water supply and demand will increase to nearly 4 million acre-feet by 2060, with significant shortages possible as early as 2017.

It has become clear that, over time, our water uses are going to have to change. In thinking about where – in what sectors – this change should take place, we must also consider the environmental, cultural and economic services that each sector provides.

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