“A single lawn sprinkler can use as much water as taking a shower,” Ingels said. “Many people don't even know where their (sprinkler) controller is. They are often hidden behind boxes or bicycles in the garage.”
The press conference was held jointly by the California Department of Water Resources, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis. The speakers noted that every drop of water saved by not watering already moist lawns will ensure there's more water when warmer months arrive. As part of the event, Ingels demonstrated a simple test to determine lawn moisture.
He easily pushed a flat-head screwdriver into the lawn up to its handle, indicating the soil beneath the surface is moist. If it doesn't sink in all the way or needs pressure, the lawn may need water.
In the coming months, there are many more strategies that can be employed to make the most efficient use of water placed on landscapes, which represents more than half of home water use.
- Determine your home sprinklers' output by conducting a catch can test
- Program the controller to deliver water in short increments broken up with time for the water to soak into the ground
- Use drip irrigation for plants and trees
- Cover the soil with mulch to reduce evaporation from the soil surface
Read more here: Conserve water with proven landscape irrigation strategies
Additional home and ag water conservation resources are available from the UC California Institute for Water Resources, http://ucanr.edu/drought.
Many of these farmers use groundwater to irrigate their orchards, and groundwater in the Sacramento Valley is in pretty good shape, said Joe Connell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and county director in Butte County.
If groundwater levels drop, growers will be pumping from farther down. So far, things look like they will be OK for orchard crops, Connell said. The supply of bees was adequate and before the rains, there was time for bees to pollinate.
The outlook isn't quite as rosy for rice farmers in the area, Randall "Cass" Mutters, UCCE advisor in Butte County, told the reporter.
"The buzz is that everyone is waiting on what the allotment will be," Mutters said. "No one will know until April 1."
However, recent rains were just a dribble compared to normal for this time of year. The Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation have said surface water deliveries will be very low or nonexistent for growers.
The article concluded with a link to the UC California Institute for Water Resources drought page and a list of the resources available there to farmers, homeowners and the media.
During a drought, salts that would normally be leached out by rainfall stay on the surface. Growers are forced to irrigate with groundwater to wash salt out of the plants' rootzone.
Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Santa Cruz County, told AgAlert, a publication of the California Farm Bureau Federation, that in Northern California many strawberry and cane berry fields are being affected. The result will be loss in yield.
In a blog post Bolda wrote in December titled A tsunami of salt is on the way, he said strawberry growers across the state need to keep running that water until we get some rain.
"There is so much salt building up in these soils right now," Bolda said more than two months ago.
The most serious damage, the Californian reported, is occurring in the Oxnard area and Choachella Valley.
This presents a financial dilemma for almost every rancher in Nevada, California and Oregon as one of the worst droughts in a century maintains its grip on the West.
For the story, reporter Kirk Siegler spoke to Ken Tate, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.
He said much of Nevada is going into its third year of severe drought, a situation that's unprecedented even for an arid region accustomed to dry spells.
Tate and his colleagues are helping ranchers squeeze out as much irrigation efficiency as possible, and manage rangelands so the vegetation is more drought-tolerant. But there's only so much that can be done.
"There are not scientific answers to some of these problems. Sometimes there's no solution for not enough rain," Tate said.
The use of plastic emitters in drip irrigation began in 1956 on a Kibbutz in Israel, where, like California, water demand is perennially greater than supply. Drip was introduced into the United States in the early 1960s.
Sun-Star reporter Marina Gaytan spoke to Scott Stoddard, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Merced County, to get his thoughts about the trend toward drip.
“You can get water savings by using drip, but often times what you're really getting is improved water use efficiency,” Stoddard said. “You've improved your yield for the same amount of water.”
According to a farmer quoted in the story, installing a one-year surface drip system costs about $400 per acre. Some farmers are installing buried drip irrigation, which runs about $1,500 per acre but will last for many years.
Farmers welcome recent rainfall
Ventura County Star
Even though springtime rainfall can cause molds to grow in strawberries, and splashing raindrops can spread fungal and bacterial pathogens, farmers are delighted with the wet weather.
"We're going to lose some fruit, but that's a small price to pay," said Oleg Daugovish, UCCE advisor in Ventura County.
Before the rain began to fall, Daugovish advised growers to apply protective fungicides and open up plant canopies to expose the inside of the plants.