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Tag archives for irrigation

A Market-Based Strategy for Sustainable Water Management

By Brian Richter, Chief Scientist, Water, The Nature Conservancy Australia is one of the driest inhabited places on Earth. Yet nearly two-thirds of the country’s land area is devoted to agriculture, generating 93 percent of the domestic food supply. The country is only able to sustain this level of food production through irrigation and an…

How Smarter Irrigation Might Save Rare Mussels and Ease a Water War

Casey Cox, who hails from a family with five generations of farming history along the Flint River in the southeastern U.S. state of Georgia, never expected to come back home. She’d graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville with a natural resources degree. A big thinker, Cox could have taken her desire to make…

Wetland Revival: Using impact investment to restore nature

 Conservation interests and agencies gathered along the Murray River in Australia earlier this month to witness the return of water to a wetland system that now rarely receives floodwater from the river, due to construction of large water-storage reservoirs built upstream that capture the river’s flow and sends it to irrigated farms.   With the twist…

Corn Remains King in USDA Irrigation Survey

By Brooke Barton Senior Program Director, Water Program, Ceres It’s no secret that our agricultural industry is very thirsty, gobbling up 80 percent of the freshwater that America consumes each year. It takes a lot of water to feed the nation, and every five years we get an accounting of just how much it takes,…

To Understand Water, Learn the Math

 OK, I’ll admit to being a bit of a geek when it comes to water numbers. I never got all that excited about algebra in school, and college calculus was a real struggle.  But water numbers fascinate me.  If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs it will be apparent that this fascination borders on…

Smarter Irrigation Returns Water to Arizona’s Verde River

What do you get when 21st century “smart” technology hooks up with a 19th century irrigation ditch? The short answer: more water-wise farming and a healthier river. That’s the story of this innovative project on the Verde River in central Arizona, where forward-thinking farmers joined up with the Nature Conservancy and installed a solar-powered “smart”…

Campbell’s Challenge: Growing Lots of Tomatoes in Water-Scarce California

By Peyton Fleming and Brooke Barton DIXON, CA – California and tomatoes are synonymous. Drive along Interstate 80 near Sacramento these days and you’ll see an endless parade of trucks, each filled to the brim with 26 tons of glistening succulent red tomatoes. It’s so many trucks, one after another, that you begin to understand…

Arizona Irrigators Share Water with Desert River

As drought and high water demands deplete more and more rivers in the western United States, it’s easy to assume a future of dryness is the inescapable fate of once vibrant streams. But in the beautiful valley of the Verde River in central Arizona, farmers, residents, and conservationists are working together to restore flows to…

Indian Farmers Cope With Climate Change and Falling Water Tables

By Meha Jain, National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee Climate change is predicted to negatively impact millions of farmers across the globe, with some studies predicting up to a 40% decline in crop yields over the upcoming decades. For my dissertation, I travel to Gujarat, India, to understand how farmers are affected by and are responding…

Small-scale Irrigation Boosts Incomes and Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa

For millions of poor farm families in sub-Saharan Africa, access to water makes the difference between hunger and a full belly, between a well-nourished child and one stunted by malnutrition, and between a productive livelihood and one mired in poverty.  For many, the long dry season is a trying time of one meal a day.…

Making Rain in the American Southwest: How Irrigation Strengthens the Monsoon

Mad science. That’s what I thought when I first read the 1973 Scientific American classic ‘The Control of the Water Cycle’ by Professors Jose Peixoto and Ali Kettani. The two discussed a radical idea, originally proposed by their colleagues Victor Starr and David Anati of MIT. Why not build giant, solar-heated water vapor towers on…

Waste Food, Waste Water — A Message From World Water Week

World Water Week—an annual conference in Stockholm dedicated to discussing the management of global water resources—opened Monday with a message about cleaning your plate.

Food waste, according to experts at the conference, accounts for significant water waste.

A third to a half of all food grown globally either sits untouched on our plates or rots before it even gets there. A new report from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) states that 40 percent of food purchased in the U.S. is thrown away. And a new documentary called Taste the Waste highlights the problem. Watch the trailer.

That Sinking Feeling About Groundwater in Texas

In case we need another example of the disturbing ramifications of extreme drought for our future water security, we can look to recent news out of northwest Texas. The High Plains Water District, based in Lubbock, recently reported that the 2011-12 drought drove groundwater levels in its sixteen-county service area to drop an average of…

The Power of a Radically Affordable Irrigation Pump

  One of the more transformative technologies ever developed for the world’s poor farmers is a water-lifting device called a treadle pump. It looks and operates much like a Stairmaster exercise machine that you’d find in a gym.  But the dollar-a-day farmers who use these devices are not trying to lose pounds; they’re trying to…

From Texas to India to the Horn of Africa, Concern about Weather, Water, and Crops

  Hardly a week goes by without new reasons to be concerned about the impact of changing precipitation patterns and mounting water stress on food production. This past week, officials in Texas cut off irrigation water to rice farmers downstream of reservoirs depleted by the worst one-year drought in Texas history.   Even with recent rains,…