New York Times Article
When it comes to water in California, the dry lawns and short showers are a novelty, but as you may already know the bulk of the water in California is consumed in commercial agriculture.
A combination of field liners, floppy sprinklers and big data could reduce California agricultural water use by at least 75% — while actually boosting yields and saving farmers a fortune on their water bill.
And until we tackle water use in agriculture we don’t stand a chance against this drought.
Ironically in a technology-driven state, there are a number of un-deployed technologies available right now that could immediately reduce agricultural water waste by seventy-five percent.
Here are three examples:
The first is called the “SWRT“ or Surface Water Retention Technology made by a Woodstock, Ontario-based company called “BRON.” The SWRT is a plastic liner that is placed three to four feet under the field surface to retain water. The liners essentially turn the entire field into a giant potted plant. BRON claims their membranes reduce water use by forty percent, which is a lot considering seventy to eighty percent of all fresh water is used is in commercial agriculture.
The second is called “Floppy Sprinkler, Rain on Demand,” made by a South African-based company by the same name. It is what its name suggests — a stream of water that is spread over the field by a floppy tube, it duplicates rainwater and also reduces excess lost water by forty percent.
And the last is Big Data. There are many companies that do this — offering better calculation of precisely when fields should be watered, for how long and at what temperature. This can drastically reduces water lost to evaporation and excess watering.
So remember: A combination of field liners, floppy sprinklers and big data could reduce California agricultural water use by at least 75% — while actually boosting yields and saving farmers a fortune on their water bill.
Once you know this, you understand that the short showers and dry lawns may be well intentioned, but they are not a water solution.