Helping Farmers

Helping Farmers

Farms produce not only foods, fiber, and fuels, but also can create widespread benefits to our environment and our economy. The Pajaro Valley supports a $500 million agricultural industry, making the per acre value of production in the Pajaro Valley one of the highest in California. The Pajaro Valley’s cool coastal climate and long growing season allows for multiple crop cycles and a highly productive industry. However, the Pajaro Valley suffers from persistent groundwater overdraft conditions and nutrient contamination of surface and groundwater supplies.

Farmers in Santa Cruz may be concerned about:

flow-meterWater Conservation: As in most of California, water is a valuable commodity in Santa Cruz County. The Pajaro Valley suffers from persistent groundwater overdraft conditions and is threatened by salt water intrusion coming from the Pacific Ocean. The RCD has programs and services for farmers needing financial or technical assistance with water conservation on their farms.

erosion-near-cropsErosion Control: When natural vegetation is cleared and when farmland is ploughed, the exposed topsoil is often blown away by wind or washed away by rain. Rain and natural forces can also create larger erosion issues. When soil erosion occurs, farms lose valuable topsoil. Soil carried off in rain or irrigation water can also lead to sedimentation of rivers, lakes and coastal areas. The problem is exacerbated if there is no vegetation left along the banks of rivers and other watercourses to hold the soil. Sedimentation causes serious damage to freshwater and marine habitats, as well as the local communities that depend on these habitats.Recent food safety practices have created even more challenges to managing erosion.The RCD has programs and services for farmers who want to find solutions or implement projects that help farmers reduce or prevent erosion on their farms.

Nutrient Management: Plant nutrients are essential for crop production. When applied in proper quantities and at appropriate times, nutrients (especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) help achieve optimum crop yields. However, improper application of nutrients can cause water quality problems both locally and downstream. Over application of nutrients can also create unnecessary costs for farmers. The RCD has programs and services for farmers needing financial or technical assistance with nutrient management practices on their farms.

euro-on-poppyAttracting Pollinators: Pollinators are essential to our environment and the productivity of local farms. The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of nearly 70 percent of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species. The RCD has programs and services for farmers needing financial or technical assistance with planting pollinator-attracting landscapes.

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