The Ecological Farming Association’s Water Stewardship Project provides education and outreach materials about implementing on-farm water conservation measures. This project is funded in part by a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Farmers across California are working on ways to use water more wisely and more efficiently. These water conservation practices hold incredible potential for reducing farmer’s use of increasingly expensive and precious water resources. The Water Stewardship Project video case studies and curriculum feature grower case studies that represent a variety of agricultural systems and practices. Water stewardship is not one-size-fits-all! Farmers are innovators who know their land and many farmers have created place-based solutions that work for their unique conditions. From low-tech to high-tech, farmers can benefit from each other’s ingenuity, adapt innovations to their own systems, and learn from each other.
In addition to the Water Stewardship Project, the Ecological Farming Association (EFA) is helping to educate farmers about on-farm water stewardship practices through workshop sessions at the annual EcoFarm Conference, regional field day presentations, and an upcoming water stewardship curriculum. Conservation organizations like the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), the University of California Cooperative Extension, and Ag Innovations California Roundtable on Water and the Food Supply are leading projects that link farmers with each other, landowners, and the community. The RCD and NRCS and UC Coop Extension provide support to design and adopt water management techniques. The Roundtable for Water and the Food Supply provides an online Ag Water Resources Center which may be very useful to farmers and others who are looking to learn more about water stewardship.
These projects work to responsibly plan and manage California water resources farm by farm and watershed-wide. The cost of water and the energy needed to deliver it are rising, and this is affecting farmers across the West. The need for water stewardship is pressing, and we hope the Water Stewardship Project farmer profiles detail efforts that have been leading the innovation curve.
“Agricultural water stewardship – the careful and responsible management and use of available water resources – can help insulate farmers against future uncertainty in water supply, bolster food security, enhance environmental quality, and contribute to overall appropriate water management in California.” (from Ensuring a Secure Future for California Agriculture, June 2008).