Capturing Flood Flows in Almonds, Other Crops
December 22, 2016
Sustainable Conservation working with experts to recharge below-ground aquifiers
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
The recent Almond Conference in Sacramento brought thousands of growers and other stakeholders of the almond industry together, and a big topic of the meeting was water use, which almond growers are doing a great job in conserving.
There's also a lot of work focused on capturing flood flows due to heavy rains, and diverting it into almond orchards, with a goal of recharging the below-ground aquifer for use later when other surface water is not available. Daniel Mountjoy is with Sustainable Conservation, and he's a director of resource stewardship.
Mountjoy is responsible for the management of three program areas: (1) Accelerating Restoration - through simplified permitting of small-scale restoration projects, (2) Rewarding Restoration - through payments for measurable outcomes and (3) Water for the Future - which demonstrates and incentivizes groundwater conservation and replenishment. “All our programs at Sustainable Conservation seek environmental solutions that make economic sense,” Mountjoy said.
“We're focusing our effort on sandy soils where the infiltration rate is really fast. We haven't had water to test this for the last couple of years, but in 2011, Don Cameron at Terranova Farms in Western Fresno County, captured 3000 acre-feet of water on 1000 acres of sandy farmland. He infiltrated on pistachios, grapes, and alfalfa fields and some fallow land during winter, as well as well into June and July on some of those crops.
Mountjoy said they're working closely with the Almond Board to help secure more sites, especially the Sacramento Valley. “Because there's more likelihood that we're going to have more water supply there to test the concept so both UC Davis and Sustainable Conservation are out working with growers.
Researchers at UC Davis are also working on the crop health aspect in terms of how much excess water could be put on a crop, as well as focusing on how that crop could be managed once it’s flooded with water.