California’s ‘dry farmers’ grow crops without irrigation

photo: Jim Leap, one of California’s ‘dry farmers’

The environmentally conscious practice relies on rainwater to grow seasonal crops

DECEMBER 18: Jim Leap is photographed on his property on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, in San Juan Bautista, Calif. Leap grows grains, fruits, and vegetables on about one acre of his land using dry farming techniques. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA — Jim Leap fondly recalls the first Early Girl tomatoes he grew at UC Santa … [more…]

Record-setting rain has created a biosolids problem for sewage treatment plants

photo: Biosolid treatment by-products use stalled due to heavy rains

Photo: Record-setting rain in the D.C. area has caused problems for local sewage treatment plants. (Robert Miller/The Washington Post)

Sewage treatment plants throughout the Mid-Atlantic are dealing with a smelly problem: The farmland that typically uses the material that remains after the treatment process as natural fertilizer is saturated from last year’s heavy rains.

That means utilities have to store the biosolids until the farmland dries — and some of

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The Untold Story of Iowa’s Ag Drainage Systems

The Untold Story of Iowa’s Ag Drainage Systems

If there were a “Mysteries at the Museum” television series geared towards agriculture, this item would be ideal to lead in a segment. It’s hollow, it’s made of clay, it contains a message from the past, and it was buried in the ground for decades.

It’s a unique clay drainage tile dated 1885, and it’s on display in the Greene County Historical Society’s museum in Jefferson. The message carved around … [more…]

Long term ag change impacts stream water quality

photo: sampling stream water quality

Photo: Graduate students Heather Luken and Tanner Williamson collect water samples from an automated sampler on Four Mile Creek. The autosampler collects a water sample from the stream every seven hours, and stores 24 samples in the carousel of bottles shown here. Credit: Carrie Ann Sharitt

In the early 1990s, Acton Lake in southwestern Ohio had a muddy problem. Large amounts of sediment from nearby farms were entering the lake’s … [more…]

Harvard Reportedly Buying Up California’s Vineyards—and Their Water Rights

photo:vineyard in California, where Harvard is buying wineries and their water rights.

Harvard University’s endowment is reportedly buying up vineyards in California’s wine country, along with the water rights belonging to those properties.

Instead of making the land purchases in its own name, Harvard is using a wholly owned subsidiary—named Brodiaea after the scientific name for the cluster lily —to buy vineyards. Harvard created Brodiaea in 2012, and by 2015 the unit had already purchased 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San … [more…]