Posts Tagged: water
A lot actually. UC researchers are working with farmers across the state to find ways to reduce their impact.
For example, water. Water is one of the biggest concerns in California - both quantity and quality. The San Joaquin River is the second largest water supplier, but also one of the more impaired water bodies. UC researchers have started working with farmers to restore wetlands and using them as agriculture buffers. This natural protection mechanism is preventing nitrates from reaching the San Joaquin River, and has helped stabilized nitrate levels in our drinking water.
Bovine Bubbles are another great example. UC researchers are using bovine bubbles to study the amount of greenhouse gasses cows produce, and how to reduce it. In the process, they've discovered that cows produce 3.4% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, contrary to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization report in 2006 that stated livestock contributes 18% of global emissions.
"There's no other country in the world that uses fewer animals to produce a given amount of food than what we do here," says Frank Mitloehner, UC Air Quality Extension Specialist.
For example, in California, one cow equals 20,000 lbs of milk. In Mexico, one cow equals 4,000 lbs of milk, and in India, only 500 lbs of milk.
"From now on, every 11 years we add another billion people to the world population. Within my lifetime, the human population has doubled. And here comes the big problem: the land that we use to feed all the people in the world...is a set amount and cannot be increased," says Mitloehner.
It all comes back to sustainability. Can California continue to lead in agricultural sustainability? Will we be able to continue to increase yields to feed our growing population, while protecting and preserving our natural resources?
Comment below, and sign up for next week's Global Food Systems Forum live webinar to join the conversation.
The State Water Resources Control Board recommended a point-of-sale fee on agricultural commodities, a fertilizer tax, or a water-use fee from residents to offset the costs of providing clean drinking water to communities where tap water supplies have high levels of nitrate, reported Gosia Wozniacka of Associated Press. The final report to the legislature is on the SWRSC website.
The AP article was published in BakersfieldNow.com, the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. A story by Sasha Khokha of KQED about the report said California may become one of the first states to levy a fee on nitrogen fertilizer if the Legislature adopts the board's recommendations.
The water board based its recommendations on a UC Davis study it commissioned, which was released last March and titled Addressing Nitrate in California's Drinking Water. The study said that nitrate contamination of drinking water is an issue in the Tulare Lake Basin of the San Joaquin Valley and the Salinas Valley.
UC Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station researchers are working with growers with small and large acreage on fertilizer management, irrigation efficiency and other farming practices to provide options for protecting groundwater. For more on these efforts, see Healthy crops, safe water.
Recommendation No. 12 in the SWRSC report said water boards should continue to provide technical assistance for CDFA's ongoing work with UC Cooperative Extension and other experts in establishing a nitrogen management training and certification program that recognizes the importance of water quality protection. UC Ag and Natural Resources is developing a curriculum to train certified crop advisors in nitrogen budgeting.
Without a secure source of funding, nitration contamination of drinking water will grow, the state report said.
Because 20 percent of the Netherlands is below sea level and the country maintains an important agricultural sector, managing water has required creative approaches. Wageningen University entered into a memorandum of understanding with UC Davis to collaborate on water issues.
Both institutions and CDFA's Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) believe there are opportunities for information sharing about technological advances that can be used to help solve water quality and efficiency challenges facing farmers and ranchers. FREP has been actively engaged in funding research to support efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers in order to limit the movement of nitrates to surface and groundwater systems. The Netherlands has experience with similar issues.
"Currently there's a real problem of safe drinking water -- and we need to fix that system, and we need to do that quickly," Parker said. "But separately from that is how do we make sure we don't continue to have this problem in the future."
The Sacramento forum was one of two being hosted by the California Institute for Water Resources and the CDFA Fertilizer Research and Education Program to explore solutions to nitrate in groundwater and the role of policy in addressing the issue.
The second forum is from 1 to 5 p.m. June 18 at the Tulare County UC Cooperative Extension office, 4437 South Laspina St., Tulare. The forum is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required. For more information, see the Managing Agricultural Nitrogen website.
The following article came via the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) "Taking Stock" newsletter and it is well worth passing on. Reading the full series will give you some important information on what animal science has done and is doing to maintain the world's food security.
"Over the last few months, ASAS has released segments of a feature article called The future of hunger. This series explored the ways that animal scientists can help feed the world's growing population. Through advances in areas like feed efficiency and breeding, scientists and producers can improve animal agriculture. A complete pdf of the article is now available. Read it here."