Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Thirsty crops, and thrifty lawns?

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41801 full

Monday's news spends a lot of time reporting on farming and agriculture around the state - kind of like the project I did on California in the 4th grade.

  • The New York Times looks at farmers fallowing land in California, taking note of a recent-years trend where agriculture has switched out less lucrative, less water intensive crops for tree nuts and berries.
“Apples need about a half acre-foot of water per acre, whereas strawberries take two or more acre-feet,” Mr. Lockwood said. “You can’t blame growers for seeking better-paying crops, but it has quadrupled water use per acre.” (NY Times)

The Times also reports that some estimates have it that California will fallow as much as 20 percent of its rice this year; rice is also a very water intensive crop.

  • Over the weekend, the Times also took a look at efforts to aid salmon migration to the sea - for a twist, the Gray Lady followed a boat, not a truck. (NY Times)
  • Fresh produce accounts for more than half the handouts at Bay Area food banks, but with farmers fallowing land that's expected to change. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • The Oregonian looks at why food prices are rising fast, and offers ways to cut back costs. (The Oregonian)
  • "If you want to outwit a drought, ask an Israeli." The Sacramento Bee visits Shahar Caspi to learn how he saves as much as 30 percent of his potential water use on crops:
The same way a dietitian would bulk up a wasting patient with lots of calories and nutrients. Except Caspi is like a soil chef, mixing fermented manure and compost in varying proportions “to re-establish a whole layer of soil that holds water” like a subterranean sponge. (Sac Bee)
  • NPR's Kirk Siegler goes to the central valley, and finds strange bedfellows on water politics. (NPR)

Closer to home, thirsty lawns get their due.

  • The Los Angeles Times looks at the enduring appeal of a lawn in southern California's landscape, as a relatively small number of Angelenos get rid of their lawns:
The LADWP is pleased with the recent rise in turf-rebate requests — 7.4 million square feet of turf have been removed from the Los Angeles landscape since 2009. But that is only 1,298 projects out of 482,000 single-family homes. (LA Times)
  • The Times also offers tips on how to save water, if you're going to have a lawn. (LA Times)

Do you love your lawn enough to make it more efficient? Hate artificial turf? Prefer Mediterranean or native plants? Sound off in the comments.

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