New frontiers Await Groundwater Recharge Projects
Feb 2, 2018 at 3:00pm
By Tim Heardin, Capital Press
With aquifer recharge projects in farm fields gaining in popularity, scientists are now trying to identify underground soil layers that present barriers as well as determine how late in the season they can apply water and not harm crops
SACRAMENTO — Now that researchers know they can make significant aquifer improvements with groundwater recharge projects, the next frontier will be determining where and when it can best be done.
Studies by the University of California and the Almond Board of California have found success in improving the health of water tables by flooding alfalfa fields and almond orchards during the winter.
But what’s still to be determined is how late in the season the intentional flooding can occur without hurting crops and yields, and where all the most optimum places are for undertaking such projects, researchers say.
For instance, orchards with sandy, porous soils have done the best at absorbing water when it’s applied. But even some of those have harder rock layers underneath that cause “a lot of lateral movement of water,” said Peter Nico, a soil and environmental biogeochemist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“We know about soils up and down the (Central) Valley,” Nico said during a recent almond industry conference in Sacramento. “What we know less about is the layers underneath.”
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