Changing Farming Practices Can Reduce Agricultural Water Use

A study out of the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that changing farming practices could save as much agricultural water as switching crops or fallowing fields. Scientists created a machine-learning model that helped them compare water usage between fallow and active fields and between different active fields to identify opportunities to save more water. They found that 10% of crop transpiration on active fields in California’s Central Valley could be saved if the top 50% of water users reduced their water consumption to match the neighborhood’s median consumption. The research team is exploring the effectiveness of practices such as mulching, no-till planting, using drought-tolerant varietals, and deficit irrigation for reducing water use, and is also investigating ways to improve the efficiency of irrigation.
Related ATTRA publication: The California Microirrigation Pocket Guide