California's agricultural economy requires more efficient use of the state's limited water resources in order to flourish in the future, according to new research from the Pacific Institute.
The research report identifies farmers and irrigation districts that have already been making water-use efficiency improvements and says policy and water management changes are imperative to capture the potential for future efficiency gains.
The analysis estimates that potential water savings of between 4.5 million and 6 million acre-feet each year can be achieved statewide by comprehensive changes in irrigation technologies and management practices used to grow crops.
More efficient farm equipment for irrigation such as sprinkler and drop systems, better use of precision agriculture techniques and better use of data such as local climate and soil information could greatly improve water management, the report says.
In recent months, California farmers have protested federal rulings that cut water resources to agriculture due to concerns over the impact on endangered fish.
Some farmers recently protested the ruling by driving tractors onto a major freeway.
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