Water Shortage Demands Smarter Farming
California’s new mandatory 25 percent reduction in water consumption is making news—but the measure won’t affect most farms. The state’s industrial model of food production is the real reason agriculture remains the heaviest user of water in California, says food systems sociologist Rachel Bezner Kerr.
“Isn't it time that we consider farming differently?” Kerr asks in an Earth Day op-ed in the Santa Barbara Independent. California’s drought should be the final wake-up call the state needs to retire wasteful and outmoded growing methods that deplete groundwater, pollute with fertilizer runoff, and contribute about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Kerr calls for a shift to healthy new land practices that lower water use, control soil damage, and aid recovery:
What we need is a grassroots embrace of the new agroecological methods that mimic nature, go easy on the water, and emit far fewer greenhouse gases. . . . The old “beef and tomato” recipe of California farming is no longer sustainable, and the long, hot summer ahead is going to make that even more plain. The farmers of the Dust Bowl learned the lessons of soil conservation only after their farms nearly disappeared. We need to invest now in agroecological methods and learn from our giant mistakes, just as they did.
Read more in the Santa Barbara Independent.