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The role of water in production agriculture

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Farmers from California, New Mexico and Missouri all raise very different crops but all have one very similar concern – water and how it relates to their productivity.

Central California farmer Cannon Michael says after four years of drought they’ve had to make significant changes to their operation.  “About a third of our farm is fallowed this year,” he says.  “We had to abandon acres of wheat and other crops.”

And he says, that’s caused a ripple effect in the economy.  “While less products are going to be produced – we’re not going to buy the seed, the fuel, the tires, or the tractors.  All those things our local communities depend upon.  And a lot of our California commodities are processed here and then sent other places – and none of that activity will happen.”

Southern New Mexico farmer Jay Hill says with an average rainfall of around 9 inches a year – technological innovations have been key for the success of his farming operation.  “In doing so – we’ve been implementing sub-surface drip,” he says.  “We’ve also been minimizing our cover crops – making sure what we are putting cover crops on is being used for vegetable production – and that’s where we’re standing right now.”

Missouri farmer Adam Casner farmers near the Missouri River.  He says his set of water challenges are completely different.  “We went through the drought in 2012 and when we went through drought conditions in 2011 it wasn’t as severe,” he says.  “In fact – we were suffering from drought conditions, but we fought flood waters all summer long.”

For a preview click HERE.  The full episode will air at 10 Eastern/9 Central.

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