How We Grow

2021 May/June How We Grow

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ALMOND ORCHARD 2025 GOAL install, with some estimates around $8,000 per acre for earth-moving and construction. However, a well-designed on-farm basin in the right location will be able to return a lot of water back to the aquifer quickly when surplus water is available and conditions are right. Some water districts are also constructing their own larger district recharge basins to use for groundwater banking. Reverse tile drain systems are another method growers are experimenting with. An innovative method, it requires installation of drains below the trees' root depth prior to planting a new orchard. Subsurface perforated pipes allow a grower to deliver water to the aquifer any time of year surplus water is available, whether or not trees are dormant, without flooding the surface or impacting essential operations in the orchards and without taking land out of production, as is needed with basins. Considerations outside the orchard Besides understanding physical characteristics in the orchard that encourage or limit a grower's recharge opportunity – such as an orchard's soils and irrigation systems – it is equally important to understand factors that may be outside a grower's direct control. Questions growers should ask themselves include: Does the irrigation district or Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) have a program to secure water rights for recharge water and the ability to convey it to the grower? Is the orchard located in a district or GSA that offers incentives (such as water banking credits, cost-shares or discounts) for growers who participate in on-farm recharge projects? Does the grower qualify for Environmental Quality Incentive Program funding through USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service? 2 ABC urges growers to be proactive about understanding existing recharge opportunities and creating new ones – including reaching out to their irrigation districts and GSAs to urge development of incentive programs where they don't already exist. "You can't really put these systems in without the backing of the distribution systems, the GSAs, your water districts," said Greg Wegis of Wegis and Young Property Management, who was one of several speakers during a recent ABC Training Tuesday titled "Groundwater Recharge: The Why and The How," 3 and who has installed a tile drain system on his operation. "I would encourage growers to work with their local water districts and get policies implemented where individual landowners can be incentivized to invest," Wegis said. "This incentivizes growers to be aggressive and reinvest and also get rewarded for that." Growers are encouraged to contact ABC at to request a copy of the new "Groundwater Recharge Guide for Almond Growers." We'll send your copy to you as soon as it's complete. Growers may contact Roseman with any questions regarding groundwater recharge. Apply excess flood water to the surface of an existing orchard. Apply excess flood water to an on-farm or dedicated basin, or fallow field. Apply excess flood water on-farm, below the surface, using reverse tile drains. The "Groundwater Recharge Guide for Almond Growers" outlines three scenarios for recharge: SCENARIO 1 SCENARIO 2 SCENARIO 3 2 NRCS is actively developing an incentive cost-share program for recharge basins and other on-farm recharge projects. 3 See a recording of the webinar at Almond Board of California 6

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