Water will shape the future of agriculture.
(In fact, it already has.)
The cost of water and the energy needed to deliver it are rising, and this impacts farmers across the West. Farmers across California are working on ways to use water more wisely and more efficiently. The water conservation practices featured in the Water Stewardship Project Curriculum—and this companion guide to that curriculum—hold incredible potential for providing farmers with technical support to manage and use water.
Water stewardship is not one-size-fits-all! Farmers are innovators who know their land, and many farmers have created place-based solutions that work for their unique conditions. This guide to water stewardship practices features models from a variety of agricultural systems. From low-tech to high-tech solutions, farmers can benefit from each other’s ingenuity, adapt innovations to their own systems, and learn from each other.
Through the Water Stewardship Project, the Ecological Farming Association (EFA) is helping to educate farmers about implementing on-farm water stewardship practices with workshop sessions at the annual EcoFarm Conference and by bringing the food and farming community together for education, alliance building, and advocacy around our precious water resources. Conservation organizations like the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), and Ag Innovations California Roundtable on Water and the Food Supply are leading water stewardship projects that link farmers with each other, landowners, and the community. The RCD and NRCS and UCCE provide technical support and financial resources to design and adopt water stewardship techniques. The California Roundtable for Water and the Food Supply provides an online Agricultural Water Resources Center which may be very useful to farmers and others who are looking to learn more about water stewardship. Links to all of these valuable resources are aggregated by EFA and listed in this guide and online at http://www.efawaterstewardship.org.
The Water Stewardship Project is funded in part by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
“Agricultural water stewardship – the careful and responsible management and use of available water resources – can help insulate farmers against future uncertainty in water supply, bolster food security, enhance environmental quality, and contribute to overall appropriate water management in California.”
(from Ensuring a Secure Future for California Agriculture, June 2008).
We are proud to have partnered with many organizations and individuals to produce the Water Stewardship Project. We offer special thanks to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, California Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of California Cooperative Extension, Ag Innovations Network, the Community Alliance for Family Farmers, and the Pajaro Valley Community Water Dialogues. We are grateful for the work of Adam Hain, the project videographer, and farmers Steve and Linda Butler, Dee Harley, Frank Estrada, Doniga and Erik Markegard, Joe Curry, and Albert Straus who are featured in the case studies. We also thank the EcoFarm Conference water workshop participants who provided expertise in the audio resources.
Ecological Farming Association Staff
Liz Birnbaum, Program Coordinator
Ken Dickerson, Executive Director
Joanna Dillon, Communications Director
Isabelle Jenniches, Program Assistant
© 2013 Ecological Farming Association, http://www.eco-farm.org