Dry farming in a drought era

Olive and grape growers have used this technique for thousands of years. Now, farmers are expanding this approach for “tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes, winter squash, olives, garbanzos, apricots, apples, various grains, and potatoes” – all crops that are successfully dry farmed in California. For example, apples were traditionally dry farmed in western Sonoma County. While the fruit size was smaller, the yields were good and most of the fruit went for processing where size is unimportant. There are probably many more such examples.
From the article: Dry farming is not a yield maximization strategy; rather it allows nature to dictate the true sustainability of agricultural production in a region. David Little, a Sonoma vegetable grower who says he at times gets only a quarter of the yield of his competitors, describes dry farming as “a soil tillage technique, the art of working the soil; starting as early as possible when there is a lot of moisture in the soil, working the ground, creating a sponge-like environment so that the water comes from down below, up into the sponge. You press it down with a roller or some other implement to seal the top…so the water can’t evaporate and escape out.”

See the case studies section in the article for some examples of growers that dry farm such crops in California.

http://agwaterstewards.org/index.php/practices/dry_farming/

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