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Ann Johnson grows wine grapes in El Dorado County, Calif., where she carefully uses each drop of water. Water is imperative to her operation, and using it wisely and keeping it clean are important to private landowners like her.
Conservation practices, like a drip irrigation system, help her care for this natural resource. A public television series, “This American Land,” will showcase Johnson and other California farmers and ranchers who are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to put conservation on the ground. Continue reading
Three years ago, Carol Huether, decided it was time to change careers and reinvent herself. So, she took her years of experience managing other people’s businesses and turned those skills into a successful organic vegetable and herb farm in Spring Creek, Nev.
As she transformed her 10 acres into a productive operation, Huether wasn’t working alone. USDA agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA), worked closely with Huether to create a sustainable operation, despite the region’s challenging climate.
“I wouldn’t have been able to even start this kind of operation if it hadn’t been for all the agencies coming together to help me under the umbrella of the USDA,” Huether says. Continue reading
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller toured local farmland in Los Banos, California that is benefiting from a federal partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to protect the Bay-Delta Watershed. Approximately $6 million was invested by the two agencies, from 2011 – 2013, to upgrade irrigation water delivery infrastructure and on-farm irrigation equipment to conserve water for San Luis Canal Company farmers.
“Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and the environment,” said Cannon Michael, a local farmer. “Farmers have a duty to be good stewards of our resources and conservation is a key element of good stewardship. Improved water use efficiency and reduced runoff benefits farmers and the environment. Our partnership with NRCS has yielded very positive results and their programs encourage conservation on a large scale.”
Weller toured Michael’s new drip irrigation system, funded by NRCS, and nearby infrastructure improvements funded by Reclamation. Continue reading
Everything that Adán and Pilar Trujillo, two siblings from Chimayó, New Mexico, do on their farm connects with the community. Their lettuce fed students at the local McCurdy Charter School last year. They sell their rhubarb, rainbow chard and red Russian kale at the community market just down the road in Española. And their chile will be roasted and eaten this fall by children in schools nearby.
Though they can trace their family heritage back to the original agrarian settlers in the area almost 300 years ago, Adán Trujillo didn’t decide to get into farming until he graduated college in 2004. With the help of a local co-op and conservation work, these young farmers are making a big impact in the Chimayó area.
However, despite the co-op’s success in supplying food to the local residents, a recent severe and extended drought gripping an already arid state made the Trujillos and other farmers in the co-op look to more efficient ways to irrigate.
“My father started talking to people and heard that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service could help us get started with drip irrigation,” Adán Trujillo said.
The Trujillos and other members of the La Cosecha del Norte Co-op worked with NRCS to help them design, install, and partially pay for a drip irrigation system that helps deliver water efficiently to the roots of the crops and minimize water loss due to evaporation, a common problem with the traditional flood irrigation technique of the region.
“Drip irrigation has been so much more efficient and easier than flood irrigation,” Trujillo said. “It has saved us through the drought and we’re still able to irrigate once a week.”
Alongside drip irrigation, conservation has helped the Trujillos and the co-op members continue in their community mission. Continue reading
In a local news report, Nebraska farmers who have converted to water saving irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation, share their success stories with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief, Jason Weller. Click here to watch the video. Continue reading