UC ANR expert provides ag angle on student talk show

May 11, 2015

The myriad concerns related to California's fourth year of drought were raised during a California State University, Northridge, student talk show that featured a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) farming expert.

UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor Blake Sanden was joined on the show, titled On Point, by CSUN sustainability professor Helen Cox and geography professor Amalie Orme. Sanden spoke to the issues related to the agriculture industry. He noted that well-known San Joaquin Valley farmer and rancher John Harris, who manages 7,000 acres of land, is fallowing more than half of it this year and using all the water he has available to irrigate tree crops planted on 2,800 acres.

Asked whether he felt agriculture played a role contributing to the drought, Sanden explained that farmers consider a complete water budget when planning crops and are cognizant of the drought situation in low-precipitation years. He acknowledged that there are human-caused issues related to the drought, noting that the state has placed a priority on environmental preservation, which also requires a great deal of water.

Sanden commented on the now commonly shared fact that it takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond. Indeed, he said, it takes 50 gallons to grow one orange and as much as 100 gallons to produce a glass of milk from cows fed irrigated alfalfa.

"I hear these things going on and sometimes I just have to shake my head," he said. "Somebody is looking for a story with the gallon-per-nut catch phrase and they're not looking at the larger picture."

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist