Economic and Environmental Implications of California Crop and Livestock, Adaptation to Climate Change
Keywords:agriculture, climate change, Groundwater Exchange, groundwater recharge, modeling
Water to Supply the Land: Irrigated Agriculture in the Colorado River Basin$0.00 Bulk Download
Water to Supply the Land: Irrigated Agriculture in the Colorado River BasinPacific Institute | May 9, 2013...Summary
The Colorado River, recently named America’s most endangered river, supports millions of people in the American Southwest and northwest Mexico and helps irrigate...
The Colorado River, recently named America’s most endangered river, supports millions of people in the American Southwest and northwest Mexico and helps irrigate millions of acres of land. Yet demands on the river already exceed the river’s average supply, a situation that is projected to get worse in coming years as climate change reduces runoff at the same time that fast-growing southwest cities demand more water. Irrigated agriculture currently consumes more than 70% of the water supply within the Colorado River basin, making it critical for more efficient water use.
For the first time, new research from the Pacific Institute describes the extent of irrigated agriculture throughout the seven Colorado River basin states and two additional states in Mexico, the types of crops grown, and the amount of water used to grow these crops. In addition, the new report – Water to Supply the Land: Irrigated Agriculture in the Colorado River Basin – compares several agricultural management scenarios and the potential water savings and costs associated with each. Importantly, none of the scenarios remove agricultural land from production.
More than 90% of pasture and cropland in the 256,000-square-mile Colorado River Basin requires irrigation, with about 60% of the irrigated acreage devoted to pasture, alfalfa, and other forage crops used to feed cattle and horses. These forage crops consume about 5 million acre-feet per year, equivalent to a third of the river’s annual flow. Employing innovative irrigation techniques more strategically and in more places – techniques that many farmers are already using – can help ensure agriculture in the basin states continues in the face of rising demand and climate change’s projected impact on supply.
Modeling a series of agricultural water management conservation strategies – including regulated deficit irrigation, crop shifting, and advanced irrigation technologies – the Pacific Institute compared potential water savings and costs associated with individual scenarios. The analysis shows considerable water savings are possible. For example, almost a million acre-feet of water may be generated by irrigating alfalfa less often (a practice known as “regulated deficit irrigation”) throughout the basin in the U.S., at an estimated base cost of approximately $81 per acre-foot.
Other scenarios, such as shifting to less water-intensive crops, also yield impressive water savings with relatively low costs and without reducing the total amount of irrigated acreage in the basin. For example, replacing about 10% of the basin’s irrigated alfalfa acreage with cotton and wheat could save about 250,000 acre-feet of consumptive water use each year, with estimated base costs of less than $40 per acre-foot. Total reductions in water withdrawals and applied water would be even greater.
Oil, Food, and Water: Challenges and Opportunities for California Agriculture$0.00 Bulk Download
Oil, Food, and Water: Challenges and Opportunities for California AgriculturePacific Institute | December 1, 2015...Summary
A new comprehensive study by the Pacific Institute sheds light on the risks posed when oil and gas exploration and production operate alongside...
A new comprehensive study by the Pacific Institute sheds light on the risks posed when oil and gas exploration and production operate alongside agriculture.
“There is growing concern about competition for land and water, and the impacts of soil and water contamination on the food supply and health and safety of farmworkers and consumers,” said Matthew Heberger, the study’s lead author.
The disposal of oil and gas wastewater, which contains harmful chemicals, is a particular concern for agriculture. Disposal in unlined percolation pits poses a significant risk of contaminating groundwater resources that may, in turn, be used by agriculture. While this practice has been banned in several states, it is still widely used in California’s Central Valley, one of the nation’s most important agricultural regions. There are also serious deficiencies in the way California regulates the underground injection of wastes – current practices are not sufficiently protective of freshwater aquifers that may be used as drinking water or to irrigate crops and water livestock.
Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California$0.00 Bulk Download
Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in CaliforniaPacific Institute | June 10, 2014...Summary
Agriculture uses about 80 percent of California’s developed water supply. As such a large user, it is heavily impacted by the availability and...Agriculture uses about 80 percent of California’s developed water supply. As such a large user, it is heavily impacted by the availability and reliability of California’s water resources. Agriculture can also play an important role in helping the state achieve a more sustainable water future. The challenge is to transition to an agricultural sector that supplies food and fiber to California and the world and supports rural livelihoods and long-term sustainable water use.
Impacts of California’s Ongoing Drought: Agriculture$0.00 Bulk Download
Impacts of California’s Ongoing Drought: AgriculturePacific Institute | August 26, 2015...Summary
California’s agriculture sector has exceeded expectations during the most severe drought in recorded history at the cost of massive but unsustainable groundwater pumping....
California’s agriculture sector has exceeded expectations during the most severe drought in recorded history at the cost of massive but unsustainable groundwater pumping. Continued groundwater overdraft, while reducing the economic impacts of the drought for the agricultural sector now, has shifted the burden to others, including current and future generations forced to dig deeper wells, find alternative drinking water sources, and repair infrastructure damaged by subsidence. That is the conclusion of the new study, Impacts of California’s Ongoing Drought: Agriculture, released today by the Pacific Institute, an independent global water think tank.
This new study is the first comprehensive analysis of the actual impacts of the drought on California agricultural revenue and employment through 2014 – the last year for which data are available. The study, drawing on data from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Survey and the California Employment Development Department, analyzes acreage, revenue, and employment figures from 2000-2014. Production costs, impacts on animal or nursery products, or regional impacts are not examined because these data are not yet available. The study’s results provide critical insight into how the state can maintain a healthy agriculture sector in a future likely to see less water, more extreme weather, and greater uncertainty.
California remains the largest agricultural producer in the U.S. in total output and in exports. During the drought, California’s agriculture sector has experienced record-high crop revenue and employment. Last year farmers harvested 640,000 fewer acres, which was 9 percent below pre-drought levels, yet crop revenue remained strong. Indeed, crop revenue peaked in 2013 at $34 billion – the highest level in California history. In 2014, crop revenue declined by $480 million, representing a 1.4 percent reduction from 2013 levels. All economic estimates have been corrected for inflation. Statewide agriculture-related jobs also reached a record-high of 417,000 people in 2014, highlighting the sector’s ability to withstand the reduction of available water.