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.


The following case studies appear on the American Farmland Trust (AFT) website. AFT created these case studies to demonstrate how CA farmers and ranchers are producing a better environment.

Groundwater Management:
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Terranova Farms, Groundwater Management - Fresno County
Going beyond conventional water conservation technology, Don Cameron is now demonstrating the ability of actively farmed ground to also serve as an area of groundwater recharge by capturing and storing flood flows. Read More.
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John Eiskamp, Groundwater Management - Santa Cruz County
Driscoll’s grower John Eiskamp is a sixth generation berry farmer that is using irrigation technology to increase the efficiency of the farm’s water usage. Read More.
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Reiter Berry Farm, Groundwater Management - Santa Cruz County
Dan Balbas is a producer for Driscoll’s who uses conservation practices like biological pest control and developed a groundwater banking project on his farm. Read More.

Water Conservation:
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American Farms, Water Conservation - Monterey County
On 9,300 acres in the Salinas Valley, Farm Manager Israel Morales is helping American Farms save water by using a system of wider-permanent beds, minimum tillage, and permanently placed sprinkler pipes. Read More.
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Eduardo Ramos, Water Conservation - San Joaquin County
By transitioning from furrow to drip irrigation on his Thompson seedless grapes, Eduardo reduced his water use by 34 percent. Read More.
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Medrano Farms, Water Conservation - Santa Barbara County
By working with Cachuma Resource Conservation District, Sergio Medrano continues to integrate new conservation practices to continuously improve his economic and environmental performance on his fruit and vegetable farm. Read More.
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Adragna Farms, Water Conservation - Santa Clara County
With the help of local partners, farmer Vito Adragna and his wife Lucy are using conservation practices to save water and reduce costs on their 24-acre walnut farm in Gilroy. Read More.
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High Ground Organics, Water Conservation - Santa Cruz County
Stephen Pedersen and Jeanne Byrne grow a variety of certified organic fruits and vegetables at their farm in Watsonville, California. Read More.
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Suncrest Nursery, Water Conservation - Santa Cruz County
Jim Marshall’s innovative approach to water management reduced the nursery’s water use by more than 50 percent, allowing the expansion of their production of drought tolerant native plants. Read More.
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Red Rock Ranch, Water Conservation - Fresno County
John Diener demonstrates every day that with proper stewardship, poorly drained, salt-affected lands can be made highly productive and sustainable through a system he developed called Integrated On-Farm Drainage Managment. Read More.
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Tule Farms, Water Conservation - Yolo County
Fritz Durst farms sustainably using only the limited rain that falls on his ground by using no-till farming methods. Read More.

Water Quality:
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Ponce Produce, Water Quality - Santa Cruz County
This small acreage, diversified farmer recently implemented soil monitoring to precisely apply water and nutrients to his crops, saving money and protecting the environment. Read More.
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Andrews Ag, Water Quality - Kern County
After buying 1,200 acres of cotton and alfalfa in 1998, Michael Andrews has transformed the farm into a diverse fruit and vegetable operation using an Integrated On-Farm Drainage Management program to improve the water and soil quality. Read More.
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BSB Ranch, Water Quality - Sutter County
Gene and Lukbir Bains are brothers who have been using Best Management Practices—such as the use of cover crops—for over a decade on their 350 acres of peaches, prunes, and walnuts. Read More.


To read more about AFT’s farm and ranch land stewards, visit the AFT website.

To find more resources on water quality, efficiency, conservation and more, see our Water & Irrigation Toolkit.  

If you have questions, words of wisdom or other great tips for the many farmers dealing with the drought, visit our Conversations Page and post a question or comment!

If you have other great resources to share, get in touch with me: evaa@farmsreach.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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