Fresno State Farm plans to reduce water use by 25% in 2015

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In response to another dry year ahead, the Fresno State Farm is tightening its belt when it comes to conserving water, with a goal of reducing usage by 25% this year.

Last year, they were able to cut about 20% compared to non-drought years.

This year, they'll let 130 acres of field crops go fallow, but they can't reach the 25% goal on fallow land alone.

Using new technology like automated data collection, water meters, and soil moisture mapping, Fresno State Farm Coordinator Mark Salwasser says they'll use 10% less water on their permanent crops, which includes the vegetable unit, orchard crops, and vineyards.

"Those crops are our bread and butter," Salwasser said. "We don't want to be reducing our quality we...we don't want to be reducing our production, but we're trying to tighten down and use the least amount of water as possible."

Of the 1,000 farm acres, there are nearly 200 acres of nut trees and orchard fruit. All 400 acres of permanent crops rely on drip irrigation or microsprinklers. As for the field crops, Salwasser says they will be looking at drip irrigation for those too.

He says land is too valuable in California to let it go fallow year after year, but conservation must continue for years to come.

"Even if the drought breaks this summer or this winter, and we have a lot of water, I think we still need to conserve and plan for the next drought," Salwasser said.
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