Exploring the Land-Water Interface in the San Joaquin Valley
Both land and water resources are essential to agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley and other Mediterranean climates in California. These resources are under pressure from a variety of factors that have the potential to significantly affect the food production capacity of a region that contributes importantly to the food security of the state, nation and the world. The most significant challenges appear to be climate change, especially its impact on water supplies, environmental factors such as in-stream water needs, soil impairment, and urban development.
American Farmland Trust has partnered with the Conservation Biology Institute to undertake a spatial analysis to identify agricultural areas that are most at risk due to these challenges. Understanding how and where water supply shortages, soil impairment, urban growth or climatic changes may impact agriculture will contribute to the discussion of strategies for agricultural adaptation and conservation in the Valley.
This project will build on the successful effort led by CBI to identify areas where large-scale solar energy projects sited in the Valley would pose the least conflict to agricultural and environmental values (A Path Forward). As with the solar project, spatial analysis will occur at a broad Valley wide level, but with a finer grained analysis of at least two counties. A number of scenarios, representing different assumptions about physical and policy trends, will be done to further enrich our understanding of the future prospects of Valley agriculture. Input from technical experts and regional stakeholders will be sought throughout the process to help determine how to rank resource values and risks, and to help formulate future scenarios. We are now actively recruiting stakeholders to participate in the process.
The ultimate goal of the project is to encourage and inform a purposeful regional conversation about strategies that will be needed to meet the land and water resource management challenges and, thus, assure a productive and prosperous future for San Joaquin Valley agriculture.