August 9, 2009 at 12:47 am #173528DarcyParticipant
I grew up on a farm in the Midwest that was, at one time, nothing but prairie grass and buffalo. However, we grew corn, oats, hay and cattle…not exactly a ‘native’ ecosystem but my father believed in being a good steward of the land and was responsible in crop rotations and not overgrazing the pastures. I know the devastation that these farmers must be going through so, yes, this is a matter of principle. If it’s a matter of producing food for human consumption vs. having a green landscape, I’ll take the human sustenance over aesthetics. Farming the land is their livelihood, without water for their crops, what do they have? NOTHING but dead trees and vines. Some of these farms have been in existence for generations…They can’t just pick up and move to some other location. This is their life. I received my LA degree from the University of Arizona…there are ways to create landscapes with minimal water that can be just as beautiful than more water intensive designs. Not all crops can be grown in all locations. Each crop has certain requirements, soil, sun, temperature, etc. which is why you don’t see grapes grown for raisins or orchards of fruit and nut trees growing along the east coast. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now…Hope the ReWater info will be helpful to you.August 9, 2009 at 11:53 am #173527
Yeah, Darcy, that is exactly my point – (I see it’s kind of weird when one jumps into a discussion, previous participants all have at least a bit of conversational continuity ). I work in the central valley. When we design, we do not even use drip irrigation – our maintenance dudes don’t like drip…so we use bubblers and rotors. My contention is, given the water situation here, water for the farmers comes WAY before water for ornamental landscaping..but I want to go one farther – I don’t know why we irrigate at all, for ornamental landscapes in the central valley. I think it is unethical…I think we have only begun to explore the no-water landscape,a nd the possiblitiies are endless..Yes, you can reduce your water – use enourmously with drip – we also havean RIC. But why even do that? It is ornament, our landscaping has absolutely no social purpose other than decoration…(I mean just the projects we work on, not all LA’s)…so why irrigate AT ALL? Arizona has it down, although it is true – they get LESS water than we do, which actually makes it easier..Our dry landscapes become big weed landscapes within a season…But I still don’t thnk we should irrigate at all…August 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm #173526DarcyParticipant
It is difficult to get contractors to think beyond sprays, bubblers and rotors. We’ve had excellent results with sub-drip systems…not the spaghetti-tube stuff. We do require that the contractors are qualified to install the sub-drip (Netafim or Toro). The reps are happy to assist with installations if you’ve got a first time installer. It’s a win/win for them. We also have access to recylced water in San Diego County and Carlsbad will be moving forward with a desalination plant, as will Camp Pendleton (at least last time I heard anything about it). Historically, irrigation in Cali has been a relatively ‘cheap’ commodity. However, with the population growth and several years of a drought cycle, we need to educate people that water is a limited resource and it needs to be distributed in a way that makes sense…both economically and ethically. Even changing some of the city requirements that were written back in the 70’s (I’m guessing) when we didn’t have the population we do now need to be reexamined and modified to deal with today’s constraints…August 10, 2009 at 6:41 pm #173525
Trace – So now you not only want to eliminate irrigation in the central valley, you want to eliminate 30% of the US food production? It would be easier to move water to the fields than move crops to your beloved east coast. lets find more water in the form of desalination and reclaimed sources before you alter the economy of the entire United States.August 10, 2009 at 7:55 pm #173524
Bob, environmental design is all about finding the right place for the project. Crops used to be all grown on the ‘east coast’ or that is, east of California – we are a very young state, remember..and they are actually pretty easy to move..This idea is not original to me, but has been written up in policy, design, and planning magazines..Don’t take it so personally…It rains 70″ a year in Virginia and one does not need to irrigate crops..Maine is the potato state (used to be) as well as apples..fruit..I think the problem needs to be looked at with an open mind. Desalination plants do not have a good way to get rid of the super-salinated by-product, from my readings..Just like wind energy is there for the taking, so is water, in the right places, which is not the central valley, nor is it going to get any better any time soon..But my original idea is that the farmers deserve our scarce resource far more than our ornamental landscapes – I do not think we should expect business as usual, when it comes to water..We need to think creatively.August 10, 2009 at 8:30 pm #173523
and you can maintain crops year round on the east coast? and how much energy is is going to waste to transport the crops back to the west coast after you have moved all of you food supplies to the east… also you have now totally destroyed the fragile economy of California which will be good because we will finally get to re-open gold and sliver mines as well as become the #3 oil producer in the US behind Alaska and Texas. if agriculture is so great on the east coast and we have food shortages worldwide, why don’t they have bigger agricultural outputs in Virgina and Maine? lets convert all the tobacco fields in Virginia to fruit orchards. and get Maine back to its rightful place at the top of the potatoe production pyramid, they will only need to increase production by 150,000 lbs per year which is only 100X the amount currently grownAugust 10, 2009 at 9:02 pm #173522
seems equal to me – we now transport to the east coast – california took all the farming away from the east coast at the turn of the century..as for fragile ca. economy, if it is based on water, we better start thinking of something else..there is nothing precious or irreplaceable about california agriculture. It didn’t used to be here, and very well may not be here again…
What do you propose to do for Ca. water shortages, projected into the future? Conservation is a biggie – I say lets start with ornamental horitculture – no -water for you. Desal does not work for me – I don’t think they have dealt with the impacts of the supersalinated effluent…just ignoring it..
But back to my original point – farmers and farming seems to have become precious to you, Bob..so where does that put our landscape irrigation, on the list of priorities?
You sound very angry! It is a purely theoretical discussion! I only want to promote no-water landscapes in my firm..That is my immediate agenda. What is ykour stake in this conversation?August 10, 2009 at 9:37 pm #173521
There is nothing stopping agriculture from starting back up on the east coast other than possible economic issues. I have actually lived in a state that was mostly agriculturally self sufficient in the summer (Alaska), and had to accept huge price jumps in exotic fruits and veggies in the off-season, those items became luxury items. I believe that agriculture should become regional we do not need south American fruit in the off-season we have crops here that can be enjoyed year -round. and we do not need to ship agriculture from coast to coast.
Necessity is the mother of invention, programs are being developed to recycle the salts into table salts and agricultural salts so that ocean harvest and mining can be eliminated. Water needs to be used more than once, start with good agricultural irrigation (drip and point source irrigation) to eliminate wasteful over spray and look at gray water systems and reclamation for a step in the wastewater treatment process.
As for angry , no, I just dislike the opinions of one person that try to over-ride the entire system of things that people enjoy. People like to look at flowers in their gardens, people like to play catch on the turf in a park, people like to see street trees shading there front yards, people like to have some form of greenery along the freeways to breakup the gray of concrete and asphalt. Yes to you these are all “greenies” that are horrible and unethical, but that is what our society wants, and before you say it yes I know that people can make better choices in the landscape and we as an industry should help them to make better choices. I support your efforts to make your firm more eco-friendly, but unless you are the only LA firm in the central valley, your statements of removing all ornamental irrigation are not a mission statement for your firm, they are a regional exercise in radical thinking.
You should try to be the best at zero-irrigation landscapes in the central valley and let the public decide if your vision is something they want. How about trying to get your local ASLA chapter involved with working with the local water districts to promote water wise landscape practices, or challenge the water districts to explore reclamation water treatment applications. Drip irrigation has taken off like wild fire in southern California some cities require it exclusively in all shrub and tree applications, and the technology for sub-surface drip is becoming even better as more companies offer product lines, a massive water savings can be achieved by increasing efficiency (from 45% to about 90% water application to the plants roots). Look into promoting he use of ET irrigation controllers to eliminate waste from irrigation over use on cooler days, or in the unlikely event rainy days. Look at putting gray water cisterns into commercial and residential projects as an additional source of irrigation water. talk to your local irrigation reps to find out what others are doing in the surrounding communities to promote wise water use and to find out what new products are available.
As for my part in this discussion, I am the general public who you are going to have to convince to change, I am the farmer you want to put out of work, and I am the LA firm across the street that does things differently dispute your views, so don’t neglect to look outside your window and realize small statements can impact a huge host of peoples and lifestyles.August 10, 2009 at 9:46 pm #173520
Yes, that is exaclty what I am trying to get out of this post. Trying to understand why, even from in our own supposedly enlightened communtiy, there is so much push back..I like that – I am trying to be best no-water landscraper, and to set the trend..(other stuff you mentioned has all been considered/is being used mostly by other LA s I work with – I want to make the jump to no-water, AND keep the people happy. Def. provide better jobs for out-of-work pickers/farmers, just like was NOT done for auto industry..Farm museums are the usual answer…Just kidding – realize it is very serious for those who work in this industry…
BTW see BBC News online today – “Radical rethink needed for food”…Gov is asking general public input for where to go in face of less water and need to reduce carbon output..
Thanks for the input..See you on my rocky landscape, no drinks allowed!!
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