Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Farming in the Desert

Nearly every region of the world has its issues. Arid regions require that water be imported. Areas that are particularly cold or hot require excess energy to heat and cool homes and businesses. However, if we only built in land that is absolutely ideal for human life, we would risk substantial overcrowding, not to mention loss of habitat, and we would be hard-pressed to have enough available land to produce the food and fiber we need. In order to support the world’s population, we must spread into areas that may not seem ideal at first glance. At the same time, we must use land and our other resources as efficiently as possible in order to sustain them for generations to come.

Imperial Valley offers a unique combination of extremely fertile ground and a terrific climate for growing. With a year-round growing season, excellent soil quality, and farm practices that have improved and evolved over many years (and continue to do so), farming in Imperial Valley is an extremely efficient use of our resources, as an acre of land in this area can produce many times more yield than an acre in other areas. Irrigation practices actually make farming in arid regions more efficient water users than those who rely upon rainfall to water their land.

There is great benefit to farming in arid regions with irrigation. Dry farming (farming using rain rather than irrigation for water) is a risky proposition at best. Too much rain one season gives way to drought the next. In irrigated areas, with good irrigation practices water can be specifically targeted to satisfy a plant’s needs. It is possible to use only the exact amount needed at the precise time that it will be most beneficial to the plant. Think of the alley cat who gorges when food is available and starves when there is no food to be had, compared with the housecat who receives precisely portioned meals at regularly scheduled times. Which is healthier?