Dry areas can also be used for agriculture. Cultivation methods on the U.S. West Coast

tereny suche

The West Coast of the United States has been facing serious climate change problems for years, including increasingly extreme events such as long periods of drought, heat waves and forest fires. The year 2022 was another in a row recording record high temperatures. Nationally, most of the area is dry land, constantly struggling with too little water for its needs. The year began with an exceptional drought, affecting the western part of the country, the plains and the Mississippi Valley, northern New England, the mid-Atlantic coast and Puerto Rico with water shortages. In May 2022. In the western United States, the disaster peaked at 91.3% of the region, the most visible symptom of which was the lowest reservoir water levels on record.

Drought in the western United States is a serious problem that threatens the economy, the environment, but also has powerful consequences for agriculture. Land cultivation is one of the most important economic sectors in these regions, and since it is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, many farms are experiencing difficulties related to water shortages and loss of soil fertility. One solution that can help farmers cope with these problems has become irrigation-free farming. What does it consist of?

Dryland agriculture uses techniques to grow crops without irrigation

Drylands have forced the development of a new cultivation technique that uses a minimum amount of water to make plants grow in extreme drought conditions. Unlike traditional methods, in which fields are watered with large amounts of water, dry farming relies on the use of the natural resources of the soil and atmosphere. This minimizes the amount of resources consumed and benefits the environment and reduces the cost of agricultural production. This form of cultivation is particularly suitable for implementation in drylands in regions that are experiencing serious climate change problems.

Farming in water-scarce areas also has other benefits, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions emitted by traditional farming methods. With minimal water use, plants grow more slowly, which means less carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. “Dry farming” also has a positive impact on soil quality, which translates into increased soil fertility and improved water storage capacity. Unlike traditional farming methods, which often lead to soil erosion and environmental degradation, agriculture using minimal water preserves natural soil processes.

Drylands on the U.S. West Coast vs. cultivation without irrigation

The history of dryland agriculture dates back thousands of years. However, the practice largely fell out of favor in the 20th century, when many U.S. commercial farmers began relying on irrigation to capture expanding markets. Today, however, there is a shortage of water for irrigation in many areas, such as California, for example, where agriculture accounts for about 80% of water use and where1/3 of the vegetables in the US are grown.

Critical drought in the western part of America prompted the federal government in February 2022. has decided not to supply water in California’s agricultural belt. This was the fourth time in the past decade that farmers south of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta have not received this form of support. Therefore, finding a more sustainable way to irrigate has become a top priority. With the continuing drought, farmers have been forced to react and adapt to the prevailing conditions. So they started using water-saving farming methods.

The agricultural technique of farming without irrigation is possible in the States virtually all over the West, but rainy seasons are necessary for it to be effective. Water from the rain infiltrates the soil so that in the dry season, plant roots can take up this moisture as needed. A wide range of vegetables and fruits – including tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, almonds, grapes, apricots, corn, potatoes and even watermelons – can be grown dry.

Drylands – advantages and disadvantages of growing crops without irrigation

However, the large-scale introduction of minimum-water farming in the western United States requires some changes and adjustments in the agricultural sector. Farmers need to adapt their cultivation practices to the specific conditions that characterize drylands. These methods include planting earlier than usual to take advantage of moisture stored in the soil during winter rains, and spacing plants wider to give the roots more room to seek water. Farmers also plant young seedlings in furrows, thus minimizing the drying effect of wind.

Dry farming also requires the introduction of new irrigation technologies and devices, such as drip irrigation, which allows for minimal water use. However, such farming is profitable for farmers and society as a whole. In the long term, minimizing water consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will help protect the environment and combat climate change. In addition, farmers have more control over their crops and are less dependent on uncertain weather conditions.

Practicing agriculture in drought-stricken areas certainly won’t solve all the problems of farmers in the United States, but it offers a way forward. Although this method is not without its drawbacks, as supplying only a minimal amount of water to dry areas causes plants to take longer to mature, tend to be physically smaller and yields appear lower, the benefits are more significant. First of all, growing without irrigation saves water, and products containing less water last longer and taste better.

Growing crops in dry areas is one solution, and you can read about another rather unusual way in the article “Salt water in agriculture – an innovative approach to crop irrigation.”

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