Drought requires new strategies for managing cropland

  • 11.08.2022
  • Cal Matters

The San Joaquin Valley is California’s largest agricultural region, but it’s facing an uncertain future. A combination of persistent drought and the rollout of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will increase regional water scarcity in the coming decades. Water scarcity will have a major effect on land use: At least half a million acres are projected to come out of irrigated production in the San Joaquin Valley by 2040.

This raises a thorny question: What happens to all this newly fallowed land?

With careful planning, research and development, and incentive programs, San Joaquin Valley residents can avoid the worst consequences of land fallowing — and perhaps even improve some environmental and economic conditions.

Without careful planning, a host of negative outcomes could result.