Let's Credit Farms for Driving Drip Irrigation Technology
Written by John Vikupitz, Netafim USA CEO/President
Those who choose to blame California’s farmers for the state’s water problems simply have not been paying attention to the numerous warnings of impending water shortages from the state’s agricultural industry over the past decade. It is time to end the finger-pointing and realize that California farmers are not the enemy in the water wars. They are the leaders whose water-conserving technology and practices will enable all sectors to join together and mitigate the damaging effects of drought.
California's exceptional drought - said by UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram to perhaps be the driest water year in 500 years - led to Gov. Jerry Brown's declaration of a drought emergency on Jan. 17, 2014, followed by an order in April 2015 to cut state water use by 25 percent - exempting agriculture. Farmers, cognizant of the sheer volume of water used in growing crops, already had established a strong record of developing and implementing water efficiency practices to optimize water use and adapt to drought. The request to residential water users to cut down on landscape irrigation, vehicle washing and showers was met in some communities with legal challenges to tiered water rates, restrictions and fines.
California's farmers, however, already have borne much of the brunt of a four-year drought and have taken a half-million acres out of production. Critics say farm production accounts for just 2 percent of the state's economy but draws 80 percent of the developed water supply (water stored in reservoirs and pumped, diverted or delivered by aqueducts or pipelines) compared with 20 percent for urban use. This figure is not entirely accurate.
The Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University Fresno indicates that the real number is closer to 40 percent when one factors in water diverted for municipal and industrial use as well as environmental causes. Overlooked is the fact that water's value in terms of economic productivity is undeniable. From farm to table, it is an inescapable fact that it takes water to grow and process food. Fruits and nuts are grown on about one-third of the irrigated cropland with one-third of the water but produce almost 45 percent of the total crop revenue, according to the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
This misses the point that the agriculture industry drives the technology needed to better manage water use. Already in use by many farms across California, drip irrigation has long been recognized for water efficiency. It is technologies such as drip irrigation that give farmers greater control of water use and a better understanding of the relationship between water use and crop yield. Mandating agricultural water reductions without investments in water productivity technology could lead to California - which has rules ensuring safe and reliable food - importing more produce, higher food prices and displaced farm workers as a growing global population puts more demands on food production.
Focusing on improved water productivity is the only path to a more sustainable water future - for all of us.
50 Years of Shaping the Future
Here at Netafim we believe that little things can make a big change. This video honors farmers across the globe who practice that philosophy by embracing drip irrigation technology to grow more crops with less resources. Drop by drop, field by field, country by country. The world of agriculture is evolving, directly impacting global water and land scarcity and ensuring food security for the world.
Can Drip Irrigation Keep the Prairie Profitable? July 2014 An article published in the High Plains Journal explores the benefits of drip irrigation and subsurface drip irrigation in particular. Interviews with 2012 World Food Prize Laureate Daniel Hillel and Freddie Lamm, Ph.D. research agricultural engineer at Kansas State University.
Netafim wins Best of NAMA Award
Netafim USA and marketing agency, AdFarm, received a prestigious Best of NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association) Award at the 2014 NAMA Conference held in Jacksonville, Florida. The winning single page ad titled 'Drip Your Way to Higher Yields Using Less Water' featured a corn cob made from drip irrigation tubing.
CNBC Interview with Netafim CEO, John Vikupitz
One Man's Drought is Another Man's Opportunity. With the current drought situation, Netafim drip irrigation systems are a much more efficient form of irrigation. Many grower's find that the precise placement of water and fertilizer enables them to stretch tight water supplies over more acres than they would be able to farm under more traditional furrow or sprinkler systems.
Irrigation Insight - December 2013 Water - We're All in it Together. Netafim is awarded the Stockholm Industry Water Award for their contributions to sustainable water management.
Pressure Compensating Drippers - November 2013 Withstanding the Test of Time - the reliability of Netafim's pressure compensating drippers has made them the irrigation product of choice for permanent crops.
Irrigation Insight - November 2013 Does Price Make a Difference? One farmer learns that inexpensive drip tubing can cost more in the long run.
Irrigation Insight - September 2013 Netafim Helps Urban Schools Connect to Agriculture and Their Food - Netafim works with Common Vision, a non-profit, to help establish orchards at approximately 200 urban schools.
Valley Courier - August 2013 Drip Irrigation Trials on Potatoes - The Colorado Potato Administrative Committee sponsored a trial to prove Colorado valley crops will grow using drip irrigation systems.
Western Farm Press - August 2013 Improving Alfalfa Yields One Drip at a Time - An interview with Steve Maddox Jr. from Maddox Dairy in Riverdale, CA.
Irrigation Insight - August 2013 Choosing the Right Drip System for Almonds - How many driplines do you need and how do you choose the best dripper for your almond operation?
Irrigation Insight - July 2013 You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure, Right? Drip/micro irrigation systems are usually in place for decades and the performance of those irrigation systems are rarely measured.
Irrigation Insight - June 2013 Are You Getting All the Protection You Need? Flap technology gives your subsurface drip irrigation system added protection.
Irrigation Insight - May 2013 California Alfalfa Grower Increases Yields With Drip Irrigation - With an eye towards efficiency and cost savings, farm manager Seth Rossow uses a Netafim drip system to irrigate alfalfa more effectively.
Irrigation Insight - April 2013 Netafim USA Committed to Agriculture - When buying Netafim, we believe growers aren't just buying a drip irrigation system, they're entering into a partnership with a company that understands agriculture.