Category Archives: Water & Irrigation

Water Series: Pt 3 ~ Practical Tools & Resources ~ FarmsReach Water & Irrigation Toolkit!

Water_Irrigation

We’re happy to focus our third installment in our Water & Drought Management Series on the FarmsReach Water & Irrigation Toolkit. It provides checklists, info sheets, calculators and more detailed, practical references to help you better conserve water resources, improve water quality and efficiency, and learn more about water issues in California in general.

All of our Toolkit resources were recommended by our Featured Farmers, partners and the community. Below is a sampling of just 10 of the resources…We hope they provide some practical ideas and tools to start thinking differently about water management in your operation! And, be sure to check out the rest of the Water & Irrigation resources list, including more information on the Bay Delta Tunnels and Fracking.

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Water Series: Pt 2 ~ Livestock Strategies To Withstand A Drought: Options & Tips from Flying Mule Farm

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Written by Dan Macon, Owner of Flying Mule Farm & the Eat Local Program, UCCE Placer/Nevada County.

Founded in 2001, Flying Mule Farm is located in Auburn, California, tucked in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Our farm produces 100% grass-fed lamb and mutton, fiber products, and targeted grazing services. We operate almost entirely on leased pastures (about 300 acres of unirrigated annual rangeland and 15-50 acres of summer-irrigated pasture), which range in elevation from approximately 1,100 to 1,400 feet.

Our production cycle:

In this region and with our Mediterranean climate, the average annual precipitation is around 30 inches, with most of it falling as rain between November and April. Typically, we’ll receive a germinating rainfall (we need at least an inch of rain to germinate our annual grasses) in late October or early November. Our annual grasses then go dormant in early December until soil temperature and day length support renewed growth, usually around late February. Our annual grasses continue to grow through the springtime, usually reaching peak production in mid- to late-May. At that point, the annuals produce seed and die.

As our unirrigated rangelands die back each spring, we transition to irrigated pasture for our lamb production, as green forage is needed for weight gain. Lambs will typically remain on irrigated pasture through the summer and early fall, while we graze our ewes on stockpiled dry forage until just before turning the rams in with them in early October.

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Water & Drought Management Series: Pt 1 ~ AFT’s Outstanding Leaders

Cali Drought

With news about the water shortage saturating headlines the past several months, and farmers and ranchers forced to improvise and innovate to accommodate the forecasted drought for years to come, we’re excited to announce a Two-month series of blog features about Water Management & Drought.

To kick off the series, we’re starting with American Farmland Trust‘s picks of Outstanding Leaders, who are great examples of smart water management and stewardship across California. We hope these folks give you some practical ideas and inspiration for your own farm or ranch, while providing a glimmer of hope that it’s never too late to improve your systems!

Stay tuned for other stories in our series, which will be a mix of practical toolkits created by our partners and new tips from Cooperative Extension advisors, irrigation equipment suppliers, experienced vegetable and livestock farmers, and newer farmers coming up with their own innovative solutions.

If you’ve integrated new irrigation or water management solutions on your farm, let us know! We’d love to share your tips about what’s worked well for you.

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Abundant Benefits of Hedgerows & Bird Biodiversity on the Farm

Hedgerow

Hedgerow buffer between two fields

Today we cover hedgerows, also known as “living fences”.  The term hedgerows is an old English term that refers to narrow planting strips that grow along field borders, fence lines and waterways.  They often consist of trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials, annuals, and vines depending on the function, size, and location of the planting strip.

What are the benefits of hedgerows?  Many!

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Demystifying “The Bay-Delta Tunnels” – with 18 Reasons

Tonight I went to the 18 Reasons event about the massive Bay-Delta Tunnels water project: “Our Delta: A Conversation with an Artist, Activist and Farmer“.  As with fracking, this is a big-budget project with an enormously big impact on water in California.  And, as with fracking, it is deeply political and riddled with complex variables and a myriad of stakeholders.

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Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director at Food & Water Watch, outlines areas impacted by the Tunnels.

With the help of partners Food & Water Watch and The Nature Conservancy, we’ve already started to compile Bay-Delta Tunnel resources in our recently launched Water & Irrigation Toolkit; however tonight was a most welcomed overview of the issue! Here’s the scoop from tonight’s discussion.

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Introducing our Water & Irrigation Toolkit

water canalsIn California, where drought has been a regular occurrence since the 1860’s, most residents are concerned about the water situation. And, because farmers and ranchers are wholly dependent on fresh, clean water, issues about water scarcity, accessibility, cost, and quality are often at the forefront of their minds.

Interestingly, many farmers are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to soil fertility management, tracking precise nutrient ratios to yield the best harvests; however, far fewer are such granular experts when it comes to managing soil moisture.

With the volatile climate and ongoing drought, it’s imperative and simply smart business to ensure farm operations are managing their water use as efficiently as possible. Using appropriate equipment and technology, monitoring and managing soil to retain moisture, and selecting plants that thrive in our unique climate are a few of the ways this can be accomplished.

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