Cutbacks on water delivery from the federal Central Valley Project has left farmers, like Ted Sheeley, looking for ways to cut their water use. Sheeley, who farms in the Huron area, western Kings County, and eastern Fresno County, has traditionally used flood and sprinkler irrigation, but with the water cutbacks, it is difficult to fulfill his processing tomato and cotton contracts. Sheeley has begun converting his flood and sprinkler irrigated fields to drip irrigation to optimize his water use and plans to be completely converted within 3 to 4 years.
“We’re investing in our water systems,” says Sheeley. And it makes sense. Westlands officials anticipate that the region could lose more than $1 billion in economic activity and $350 million in revenue due to the water cutbacks. Drip irrigation not only can help farmers maximize their water use, but can help them survive during periods of water scarcity.