Flooded field
Photo courtesy of Don Cameron/Terranova Ranch.

At Terranova Ranch in California, the farm fields are covered in water for months. It sounds like a farmer’s worst nightmare, but it’s actually on purpose.

General Manager Don Cameron says that over the past 35 years, groundwater levels in the San Joaquin Valley have been depleted from overuse and drought. He’s trying to reverse that trend.

Cameron: “I think we need to take advantage of opportunities that we have, when we have floodwater really rolling by our front door, to capture it and store it for future use.”

The North Fork of the Kings River runs by the ranch. In wet years, when it runs high, Cameron diverts the water and floods his fields. The water seeps into the soil and helps recharge the aquifer below.

Cameron: “With our calculations, we’ve seen seventy percent of that water head down to the groundwater.”

He says the crops have tolerated the flooding well.

Cameron: “We found that we were able to put the flood water on wine grapes, almonds, walnuts, alfalfa hay …”

As climate change is likely to bring more intense droughts to California, new water-storage strategies like this will become critical.

Cameron “We look at any opportunity we can to put water back in the ground. We just feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

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