Isaya Kisekka, associate professor of agrohydrology and irrigation at UC Davis, is leading a team of more than two dozen climate, plant and soil scientists, hydrologists, engineers, economists, educators and extension specialists from UC Davis and other institutions in California, Arizona and New Mexico. They will develop climate change adaptation management strategies that ensure sustainability of groundwater and irrigated agriculture.
Kisekka says the project team in California will work with groundwater sustainability agencies to develop tools and data to enhance water management at both the farm and groundwater basin scales to improve crop production and achieve sustainability goals under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which provides a statewide framework to help protect groundwater resources over the long-term. The research team will also work with grower coalitions to achieve the groundwater quality goals of the Central Valley Salt and Nitrate Management Plan.
According to Kisekka, for farmers, the biggest challenge threatening their business is water. “Our project is going to develop climate-smart adaptation management practices to help growers achieve their production goals while addressing the co-benefits for the environment and human health,” said Kisekka. “We are going to develop cutting edge tools to manage groundwater quantity and quality as well as study how policies impact behaviours such as water use in agriculture.”
The practices, models and tools developed will be used by growers or their advisers, policymakers, irrigation districts, coalitions and groundwater sustainability agencies to address climate change extremes such as drought or floods.
Kisekka said they will also come up with management practices to improve soil health, develop alternative water supplies and reduce water demand so the region can continue to produce various agriculture commodities, such as vegetables, grapes and almonds.
Researchers from University of California, Berkeley, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Stanford University, CSU Fresno, University of Arizona, New Mexico State University, USDA Agricultural Research Service (Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research: Davis, CA and Water Management and Conservation Research: Maricopa, AZ) and USDA Climate Hub are also participating in the project.