Last week, Governor Jerry Brown of California ordered a 25 percent cut inurban water consumption, and took a lot of heat for exempting agriculture from any further water reductions.
The practical impact of the water crisis in California dictates a focus on residues in the Golden State, and crops that offer yield intensification compared to current land usage.
Rather than growing corn, the company says sorghum uses less fertilizers, chemicals and water, which can be especially beneficial in areas with limited water access.
“It’s a water story,” said Cool Planet’s Rick Wilson, “Reducing water needs by half in some applications. There’s turfgrass. CoolTerra was applied during an aeration and was swept into plug holes. It cut water use by half in a Thousand Oaks trial, and a golf course averages 4 acre feet of water for the irrigated acres, each year. In commodity farming, there are opportunities where, with precision application where it can be applied at the time of seeding, and can reduce fertilizer use by 2/3.” Last week, Cool Planet offered to deliver a truckload of CoolTerra to reduce water usage on the California capitol lawns.
The subsurface water retention technology uses contoured, engineered films, strategically placed at various depths below a plant’s root zone to retain soil water.
Plant roots use their endodermis, or inner skin, as a cellular gatekeeper to control the efficient use and movement of water and nutrients from the soil to the above-ground parts of the plant.
Though agriculture is in the process of being demonized by proponents of urban water usage – the advanced bioeconomy has much to offer California and other water-challenged districts to use water more wisely, and get more out of it.