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Farmland in Transition: The San Joaquin Valley

As the San Joaquin Valley works to bring its groundwater basins into balance, hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated farmland may come out of production. How do we manage all this newly fallowed land? Our latest research examines whether water-limited agriculture might help ease the transition—and what other management practices could mitigate dust and air quality concerns in the valley.


Land Transitions and Dust in the San Joaquin Valley

By Andrew Ayres, Jaymin Kwon, Joy Collins

Agricultural operations and wind erosion are two of the largest sources of dust in the San Joaquin Valley, and the valley’s air quality may decline with increased farmland fallowing and a warmer, drier climate. This will impact low-income, rural communities first and foremost, but proactive management can help identify high-risk areas and direct funding to cost-effective interventions.


Exploring the Potential for Water-Limited Agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley

By Caitlin Peterson, Cameron Pittelkow, Mark Lundy

As irrigated farmland comes out of production in the San Joaquin Valley, valley residents will face increased pests, weeds, and dust—as well as a loss of employment and economic activity. Water-limited cropping is one alternative to fallowing that can improve soil health and air quality, create habitat, and keep land in production.

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Maximizing Benefits of Solar Development in the San Joaquin Valley

By Annabelle Rosser, Mitchelle De Leon

Solar development offers one promising way to soften the economic blow as more irrigated farmland comes out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. We met with a diverse range of stakeholders to discuss how to maximize benefits—and mitigate potential harm.

Policy Brief

Policy Brief: Drought and California’s Agriculture

By Alvar Escriva-Bou, Josué Medellín-Azuara, Ellen Hanak, John Abatzoglou

California’s agricultural sector is the nation’s largest: it generates more than $50 billion dollars in annual revenue and employs more than 420,000 people. The ongoing drought is taking a toll on agriculture, related sectors, and rural communities, but there are ways to increase resilience in a warming world.

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Could Rangeland Return to the Central Valley?

By Caitlin Peterson

As Central Valley farmers confront the need to fallow some farmland to comply with SGMA, we interview two experts about a possible alternative to fallowing: converting formerly irrigated farmland into rangeland. It would keep the land economically productive—and might bring other benefits.

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SGMA Could Bolster Habitat Restoration in the San Joaquin Valley

By Ellen Hanak, Caitlin Peterson, Abigail Hart

As growers prepare to bring land out of production in the San Joaquin Valley, we’re exploring a variety of ways to manage that newly-fallowed farmland. This week, we look at a promising potential use: transforming formerly irrigated land into habitat.

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Dangers Lurk in the San Joaquin Valley’s Dust

By Sarah Bardeen

In the San Joaquin Valley, concerns about airborne dust—and its health impacts—are growing. We speak with two experts who say people are right to be concerned.

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