Girl Planting seeds

Fallowing cattle-feed farmland simplest way to alleviate western water shortage

All over the world, the rate at which humans consume fresh water is now approaching or surpassing the rate at which water sources are being naturally replenished, creating water shortages for people and ecosystems. In the western US, water shortages are becoming more frequent and more severe, and are putting many species of fish inhabiting western rivers at risk—but the scarcity of water is also risking the growth of cities in the region like Los Angeles and Phoenix. An important new study published this week in Nature Sustainability finds that irrigated crop production accounts for 86 percent of all water consumed in the western US—and of all the water used on western farms, by far the largest portion goes to cattle-feed crops such as alfalfa and grass hay. To alleviate the severe shortage of water in the region—especially in the Colorado River basin—the study's authors suggest that rotational fallowing farmland, leaving the land uncultivated for a period of time, could be a simple and affordable means of dramatically reducing water use in the region.  Read more....



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