US (CA): Growers in berry country get innovative to save water

Red and purple berries ripening in vast fields. The sun shining in a blue sky as workers in broad-brimmed hats pluck the best berries from the strawberry tufts and blackberry vines.

The bucolic scene in Ventura County along the Southern California coast belies the exacting science and sharp business decisions involved in the farming underway here, where many grow for Driscoll’s Berries and water availability can make or break a season.

Driscoll’s and its farmers don’t leave much to chance, having weathered drought conditions through much of this decade. And now they’re working on the next big challenge – implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and working to recharge the aquifer through a water recycling program.

Among a variety of studies and data collection efforts to inform better farming techniques, Driscoll’s research station located among the fields looks for the best methods for irrigating and careful use of water, with an eye on adapting to climate impacts.

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