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Water in the News

February 20, 2014

USDA allocates $20 million for water conservation

Porterville Recorder
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Department of Agriculture will make $20 million available for agricultural water conservation efforts throughout California to combat the effects of drought. Interested landowners and managers have until March 3 to apply for available funds.

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Every last drop: A water conservation Q&A

Ag Web
Water is a precious resource, and perhaps nobody knows that more than Moshe Kirat. This Israeli date farming expert has looked into irrigation methods that combine drip irrigation and soil sensor technology to cut water usage by as much as 30 percent. That’s essential in a country where it costs $150 a year just to irrigate one date palm. Kirat shared some of his thoughts on water conservation and the future of water usage in farming in the a question-and-answer session.

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Eco-conscious agriculture key to healthy wetlands

Environment News Service
Greater collaboration among the agriculture, water and wetlands sectors around the world is needed to ensure healthy wetlands, the top official at the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands said on Feb. 2, World Wetlands Day. Dr. Christopher Briggs of the U.K., the new Ramsar Convention Secretary General, warns that the growing demands of agriculture for water and land to feed a growing global population of more than seven billion people is causing the drainage and conversion of wetlands for cultivation or aquaculture.

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Farm Bill passes Senate with ‘strong’ conservation measures

Journal Sentinel
The U.S. Senate on Feb. 4 approved the 2014 Farm Bill on a 68-32 vote, clearing the way for President Barack Obama to sign the legislation. Though conservation funding is dwarfed by the nutrition title (a.k.a. food stamps) in the Farm Bill, the legislation still plays a key role in many wildlife programs. The bill includes $57.6 billion in conservation programs over the next 10 years, about a $6 billion reduction from the 2008 Farm Bill. But the 2014 Farm Bill maintains several pro-wildlife provisions.

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Soil health can improve quickly with conservation tillage

Minnesota Farm Guide
Today’s crop farmers raise and manage tiny livestock that need some care to thrive. Bacteria, fungi, bugs, earthworms and other organisms live in the soil. They digest residue and root exudate to make organic matter that improves the health of the living soil. These things living in the soil actually help crops to thrive and yield well. Soil conservation and management done thoughtfully and correctly can help keep the soil healthy.

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New farm bill shakes up the way we pay for land conservation

The farm bill has about $57 billion for conservation. Director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition Todd Ambs says a lot of people don’t realize the farm bill is where we find the largest source of conservation money from the federal government. The bad news for environmentalists is that the new farm bill cuts $6 billion from conservation programs over the next decade. But Ambs says there’s a lot of restructuring within programs, and he expects that’ll mean the money will be spent more efficiently.

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Agricultural productivity loss as a result of flood damage

University of Illinois Extension via Drovers CattleNetwork
The Cache River Basin, which once drained more than 614,100 acres across six southern Illinois counties, has changed substantively since the ancient Ohio River receded. The basin contains a slow-moving, meandering river; fertile soils and productive farmlands; deep sand and gravel deposits; sloughs and uplands; and one of the most unique and diverse natural habitats in Illinois and the nation. According to a recent University of Illinois study, the region’s agricultural lands dodged a bullet due to the timing of the great flood of April 2011 when the Ohio River approached the record high of 332.2 feet above sea level.

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