Ag Collaboration with the Netherlands

Karen Ross: Ag Collaboration with the Netherlands

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

One of the best ways to overcome the challenges that arise in farming, is ag collaboration with countries that have already found solutions to the issues we face.

Karen Ross, secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture, led a delegation of Californians to the Netherlands last month, “for shared discussion on all of the ways we can collaborate on climate-smart agriculture,” Ross said, “including water-use efficiency and improved fertilizer use.”

“In particular, the Netherlands has a shared issue with us—nitrates in groundwater—and what we can do to improve our water management and fertilizer management to avoid that. They’re doing some interesting things with greenhouse technologies and salt-tolerant crops, so we saw some real opportunities. We had university people with us to do some trials here.”

Ross’s group was able to visit Wageningen UR (University & Research centre), Netherlands’ prominent agriculture university. She said between the University of California, Davis and the Dutch university, “we found ways that we can collaborate together to find the solutions that are not just about here in California,” Ross said. “If we can solve these problems on water-use efficiency, desalinating brackish water, and salt-tolerant crop issues in California, we will make a contribution to solving these problems on a global basis.”

Ross’s team also visited many farmers, primarily of specialty crops. Ross commented, “We saw some of their digester technology, which we know is one of the solutions for our dairies. We really want to advance that technology, make it affordable and provide value to our dairies.”

Ross Supports Desalination

CDFA’s Karen Ross Supports Desalination Plants

By Brian German, Associate Editor

 

Following the opening of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant near San Diego, the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, CalAgToday asked CDFA Secretary Karen Ross if she views desalination as a possible solution to the drought-induced water reductions in California.

“Desalination is an important part of the solution,” answered Ross. “Israel has really advanced this technology and there is much for us to learn about its use from Israel.”

Israel has had great success in battling drought by building many desalination plants along the Mediterranean Sea. The plants provide fresh desal water to the cities, which is used, cleaned and recycled for use on the country’s farms.

Ross continued, “I am especially optimistic about the use of practical smaller-scale desal projects to reuse our brackish water—the more inland saline water. Our researchers can use this technology to help us solve the ‘brine waste’ problem; it will absolutely be part of our new water picture. There is no single solution to our water picture, and I think we need to look to Israel to learn from their experiences as well.”

“’There is, no doubt, a cost to this new technology, but by figuring out the technology and foçusing on smaller scale projects, we should be able to scale this up to a point that will make it cost-effective,” said Ross. “Let’s face it, the value of the water it brings back for reuse is potentially going to change the price we all pay for it. But we really need to focus on improving this technology and getting those costs down as much as we possibly can.”

“The Carlsbad plant is a billion dollar investment, which is overwhelming and intimidating,” said Ross. “But when we amortize the cost and calculate what it means per household, this investment represents a very important source of supplemental water that also gives us some flexibility and resiliency for the next drought, and the one after that. Our circumstances are different than ten or twenty years ago, so the costs pencil out in a different way.”

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The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is a 50 million gallon per day (56,000 acre-feet per year (AFY)) seawater desalination plant located adjacent to the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, California. Desalination has evolved into a desirable water supply alternative by tapping the largest reservoir in the world – the Pacific Ocean. The technology, available for decades, is at work in many arid areas of the world including the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. A 30-year Water Purchase Agreement is in place between the San Diego County Water Authority and Poseidon Water for the entire output of the plant. The plant has been delivering water to the businesses and residents of San Diego County since December 2015.

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Poseidon Water, the developer and owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, is a privately held company that develops and invests in water projects throughout North America. Poseidon offers customized solutions to meet the water needs of municipal governments, businesses and industrial clients.

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The Huntington Beach Desalination Project is also a 50-million gallon per day facility currently in late-stage development, also by Poseidon Water. Located adjacent to the AES Huntington Beach Power Station, the plant is scheduled to be operational by 2018.