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Farming Question

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Fear The Spear

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So, pardon my ignorance on the subject.
But the question just dawned on me : why don't farmers use sprinkler systems to offset times of drought ?

Surely the cost of doing so, would be less than the cost of losing all those crops to the drought ?
 

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tshile

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well in some areas they put big tanks out in the fields to hold the water for when that happens. but it only lasts so long.

but in general, if there's a drought, where do you suggest they get the water from to run the sprinklers?
 

Nobody

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Army

It's all about proper irrigation. Some farmers are just plain ignorant as to how to do it, or don't want to put the work in that's required (and yes, I come from a farming family, there are lazy farmers).

Then you have to consider the cost and preparation involved to do it. Setting your land up for proper irrigation is not a light task. It involves sitting a season out, and spending an entire year preparing the land. You have acres upon acres of land that would require surveying and properly grading the land for irrigation, digging irrigation ditches without getting killed (which is a big cause of accidental death on a farm due to collapse), and running these all without screwing up the tramlines and cutting yourself off from your crops. It isn't an easy task, and it isn't a cheap one.

Since most farmers barely live year to year as it is, they are generally not in a position to take out more loans than they can pay back, on top of sitting out a season, and working essentially from a 2 year deficit when they get back up and operational again.

With the area involved, it isn't as simple as taking out a hose or putting in a sprinkler system. Even then, you need groundwater to supply those systems, and without a good irrigation plan in place, and a low water table, it's a lose-lose situation.

Proper irrigation. Plain and simple. Ditches and ponds everywhere. But even then, a good enough drought takes that all away. You can't win every battle. Or afford to fight it.
 

Nobody

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Army

Seems like farmers would be far more deserving of a bailout to apply to those expenses, and could use it more productively, than the banks that get bailouts from the government
I used to think that, but I actually have mixed feelings on the topic now. Too many farmers have caved to the pressure of the government with their growing corn for ethanol and their subsidies, and doing the bare minimum to be productive for me to really feel sorry for them as a whole anymore.

There are still some honest ones I'm sure, but too many simply got so accustomed to the subsidies that they rely on it as a revenue stream in their annual budget now. What it amounts to as a result, is they never truly suffer from a bad season the way the rest of us do, so there's no incentive to improve.
 

Burgundy Burner

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I didn't know too much about farming until moving to this part of NJ. Cranberry and blueberry farmers are scattered across this region of the Garden St. along with those who grow produce for local markets and roadside stands.

The common theme I continue to hear from them centers on having too many environmental laws on the books. They must jump through dozens of political hoops each and every year. Part of the problem focuses on securing reliable water sources and often being at the mercy of nature when they are not able to do so via the political roadblock(s).

The core issue facing farmers in current drought-stricken areas is concentrated on sharing the precious resource with industrial and residential concerns. Only so much can legally be tapped from an aquifer or any other underground source - if at all. Major (and minor) river diversions would take years (perhaps decades) of legal wrangling. Relying solely on snowmelt and rains is not enough at times, but there is no easy solution as anyone can plainly see.

My solution may not be a simple one, but I can't see any other viable ideas out there. Coastal states/local coastal municipalities should be allowed to build a fair number of desalinization plants and an extensive pipeline system. These pipelines can be connected to major inland waterways, lakes, and various plants. The water would be utilized as needed, especially during periods of extended drought. Lack of water would never be an issue for any locality ever again.
 

Goaldeje

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James Madison

I read a book recently on this very subject, and it was fascinating. Desalinization may indeed be the way to go, BB; though it is incredibly costly to build and run such a plant. Here on the East Coast, our aquifers are relatively untouched, and water isn't/shouldn't be a problem; but in the MidWest, Texas especially, not so much. People buy land to stake a claim to the water underneath it more than for the land itself.

We have friends that lived in the Arlington area for years, and always said they thought it was strange how many homes had grass growing, that needed irrigation solutions, because it is normally so dry there. It was like people from other parts of the country came to live there but wanted their yard to be like "home" and couldn't bear it without grass. That grass takes a lot of water to handle, and water has historically been very, very cheap, so what did it matter to them?

I suspect desalinization will become more popular, though I also suspect we will all pay for it. More localities are privitizing their water supplies (which is particularly apropos with desalinization) which will probably lead to a higher cost for us, which should, in theory, lead to reduced/creative water usage.
 

Goaldeje

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James Madison

I used to build desalinization plants all the time in Sim City. Seemed pretty easy :)
Hmmm, you may be on to something. I think parenting could be a lot easier as well:

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0L327qartA[/media]
 

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