Given California's ongoing drought, new ways to save water are crucial.
In light of these conditions, the Almond Board of California has announced a new partnership with Sustainable Conservation to explore the groundwater recharge potential on the one million acres of almond orchards in California.
California's largest water storage system are underground aquifers. Groundwater recharge would return water to these aquifers through managed flooding with excess seasonal storm water. Once returned, the water in the aquifer will serve the greater community in California.
In partnering with Sustainable Conservation, the Almond Board will take the first steps within California's agriculture community to increase groundwater recharge on almond farmland.
To do so, the two parties will take measures over two years, including:
- Grower field trials: They will compile information from almond growers who have successfully captured excess floodwater in previous years and used it for managed groundwater recharge. The information will allow them to document the methods and timing in successful cases that have not had a negative impact on almond crops.
- Research study: Through Almond Board-funded research with the University of California, Davis, researchers will analyze the health impact of applying excess floodwater to almond orchards. They will monitor planned trial plots in Merced, Stanislaus and Fresno counties to investigate how floodwater can be applied to almond orchards to groundwater recharge without negatively impacting crop yields.
- Geological analysis: Agriculture technology firm Land IQ will build upon ongoing research by the California Water Foundation to identify the most suitable almond orchards for groundwater recharge
Although some predictions say that the El Niño rainstorms will end California's ongoing drought, the Almond Board's new program will capitalize on those storms to help replace some of the state's depleted water sources.
And the Almond Board has already played a role in helping conserve water, having funded research projects over the last 20 years to better understand water movement in the soil. By incorporating the findings of such research into improved irrigation practices, they've helped reduce the amount of water need to grow each pound of almonds by 33 percent.
Given the current state of California's water supplies, every bit matters.