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The Big Lie of Schwarzenegger and Corporate Agribusiness: Fish Vs. Jobs

by Dan Bacher Thursday, May. 07, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Bill Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, has caught the Department of Water Resources, Governor Arnold Schwarznegger and Corporate Agribusiness in yet another "Big Lie."

Photo: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, worshipped as the "Green Governor" by the mainstream media and corporate-funded "Gang Green" "environmental" groups, engages in a corporate greenwashing opportunity on Earth Day, just a couple days before campaigning for a peripheral canal and more dams at a "March for Water" organized by the "Latino Water Coalition," a front for Corporate Agribusiness.

The Big Lie of Schwarzenegger and Corporate Agribusiness: Fish Vs. Jobs

by Dan Bacher

“The Big Lie” is a propaganda technique developed by Josef Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, and Adolph Hitler in the 1920’s prior to their taking power in Germany in 1933.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” said Goebbels, in explaining the technique that he helped perfect. “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.”

In his autobiography Mein Kampf, Hitler defined the “Big Lie" as a lie so colossal that no one would believe that anybody "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

Since the Nazis came to power in 1933, many governments, corporations, and corrupt individuals throughout the world have used this tried and proven propaganda technique to seize power and to brainwash the population into believing unsubstantiated “facts” to further their goals.

In California, the greatest practitioners of the “Big Lie” are Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lester Snow, the Director of the Department of Water Resources, the state water contractors and their accomplices who have spread outrageous claims about the “need” for a peripheral canal and more dams in order to increase water exports to unsustainable subsidized agribusiness. Their most recent use of the classic “Big Lie” propaganda technique is to blame “fish” and “drought” for farm “unemployment” to further their campaign to build a peripheral canal and more dams.

As part of the preparation for the State Water Board hearing on the DWR/Bureau petition, Bill Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, researched the claims made by DWR and various water agencies and politicians that the drought had a huge impact upon farm labor unemployment. He found that the contention that the “drought” has been devastating for farmworkers is a classic case of “The Big Lie,” with no basis whatsoever in fact.

For example, Schwarzenegger portrayed a false crisis of farmworker unemployment "skyrocketing," due to the supposed favoring of “fish” over “jobs” by state and federal agencies, when he addressed the recent “March for Water” organized by corporate agribusiness without the support of the United Farmworkers Union or farmworker advocacy groups.

This is similar to “The Big Lie” spouted by Schwarzenegger in the summer of 2007- that "no dams had been built" in California during a 30-year period - until myself and others exposed his lies and he finally stopped telling them.

“This march is about opening our eyes to the reality of California’s water crisis – and the reality is that farmers do not have a reliable water supply they can count on, farm workers fear losing their jobs because crops are not being planted, and in towns across the Central Valley, unemployment is skyrocketing,” claimed Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am determined to getting a comprehensive solution done once and for all that will update our water infrastructure, increase our water storage and restore our Delta.”

Likewise, actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez claimed, "We cannot ask a tree to wait a week, Governor," trying to convey a gloom and doom scenario for west side San Joaquin Valley agribusiness unless exports into the Delta pumps are increased. "The tree has to have water. Our fields are turning into kindling wood.”

The Corporate Agribusiness Big Lie was repeated as scriptural truth by the corporate media, with little if any critical analysis of actual economic data as Jennings has done.

“Water agencies and politicians have been relentlessly claiming that the drought and environmental restrictions have had a devastating impact on farm worker employment,” said Jennings. “These claims have been widely reported in numerous newspapers and broadcast media articles. Unfortunately, they are substantially lies; facilitated by those seeking to relax environmental protection and facilitate a peripheral canal.”

Contrary to the claims that farmworker jobs have decreased, the fact is that farm labor employment in the San Joaquin Valley has increased since the "drought" began three years ago, according to Jennings.

“In fact, agricultural employment in the San Joaquin Valley has generally outpaced all other economic sectors,” said Jennings. “The rise in unemployment is recession-based and focused primarily on the construction, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality sectors.”

Jennings reviewed files from the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) Labor Market Information Division between March 2008 and March 2009. These files revealed that there was no basis for claims that farm labor "unemployment" was caused by the “drought” and court-ordered restrictions on pumping.

Here is the startling data that the Governor, DWR and the state water contractors didn’t want you to know:

• Fresno County total farm employment increased by 1,100 while nonfarm employment decreased by 8,900.
• Kern County total farm employment increased by 1,300 while nonfarm employment decreased by 2,500.
• Kings County total farm employment increased by 100 while nonfarm employment decreased by 700.
• Tulare County total farm employment increased by 1,200 while nonfarm employment decreased by 3,200.
• Merced County total farm employment decreased by only 200 while nonfarm employment decreased by 2,100.
• Stanislaus County total farm employment decreased by only 300 while nonfarm employment decreased by 4,900.

The same is true between 2006 and 2008, according to Jennings. Total farm employment increased by 2,600 in Fresno County, 4,000 in Kern County, 3,400 in Tulare County, 100 in Merced County, and 500 in Stanislaus County. Only in Kings County, the smallest of all valley agricultural counties, did agricultural employment drop - and then only by 600.

“The trends are the same, whether you're comparing annual farm and nonfarm employment between 2000 and 2008 or historical monthly employment data (2000-current),” said Jennings. “The significant rise in unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley over the last few years is clearly not due to a loss of farm labor jobs, with the possible exception of King County where farm labor unemployment averaged over 10% between 2000 and 2008 Kings County has, by far, the smallest farm and nonfarm employment of any county in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Jennings noted that much has been written about the exceptionally high unemployment in the town of Mendota, as evidence of impacts from the “water crisis.” However, he emphasized that “unemployment in Mendota has always been high.”

“It exceeded 32% in 2000 and was the highest of the state's 494 towns,” added Jennings. “Per capita income was below $8,000, which was the lowest level in the state. Unemployment is a serious problem in areas like Mendota and begs to be addressed. However, it is a structural long-existing problem not primarily caused by reductions in water deliveries.”

The unemployment numbers may change during the course of the coming year but, for now, “they shout lies” to the claims by agencies and water districts, Jennings concluded.

On the other hand, state and federal water policies that favor subsidized corporate agribusiness have helped to devastate Central Valley Chinook salmon, striped bass, sturgeon and other fish populations that the recreational and commercial fishing businesses depend on. Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and juvenile striped bass have declined to record low population levels in recent years, due to massive increases in water exports out of the California Delta, toxic chemicals and invasive species.

“The Big Lie” that the “drought” and court-ordered restrictions of pumping to protect delta smelt and endangered winter-run Chinook salmon have led to massive unemployment in the farmworker community is a cynical attempt by Corporate Agribusiness and their allies, Schwarzenegger and Snow, to pit fishermen against farmworkers, and Delta farmworkers, who are threatened by the peripheral canal, against San Joaquin Valley farmworkers.

As Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, so eloquently said, “Pitting the needs of one farm worker community against another is wrong. Environmental justice advocates, who address environmental impacts on the poor and people of color, do not advocate for the benefit of one environmental justice community against the needs of other environmental justice communities.

“Solving the economic challenges of farm worker communities in the Central Valley and the Delta must be done in a compassionate and moral way so as to recognize the dignity of the work that farm workers perform in the present, while providing them with new opportunities to become productive members of a diverse middle class California economy,” she concluded. “In addition, numerous workers in the fishing and recreation industries are workers of color who must also be protected by environmental justice advocacy.”

Jennings has exposed Corporate Agribusiness and Schwarzenegger for the "Big Liars" they are, but in the classic tradition of "The Big Lie," they will probably come back with an even more outrageous lie to replace the one they are spinning in the mainstream media now.

The charts extracted from EDD data by Jennings include: 1) March 2009 employment data, 2) annual nonfarm employment, 2000-2008; 3) monthly farm employment, January 2000 - March 2009 and 4) annual industry employment by labor force (including unemployment percentages), 2000 - 2008. The data are available at: http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/?pageid=131 and http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/?pageid=166

Added Comments;


Changing crops demand 4 H2O, not diverting rivers!
Save farms by growing drought tolerant crops!

Wednesday May 6th, 2009 2:58 PM

One really simple way to save both fish in the rivers AND enable farm workers to continue having employment is for the San Joaquin growers to convert to drought tolerant crops! So much more effective and far less expensive than peripheral canals, extra high dams and other foolhardy measures of trying to control nature..

If San Joaquin farmers would use LESS water on their converted drought tolerant fields, there would be more water in the rivers for the fish! Such a simple concept, yet the logic escapes the politicians and others who attempt to promise growers more water than they can realistically deliver..

Before i get on another tepary bean rant, let me just say that i'm as tired of it as are others. Once the growers stop their attempts of finding new ways of steal water from rivers far away, then i'll stop talking about tepary beans! The simplest and most effective way for San Joaquin growers to stop stealing water is for them to convert to drought tolerant crops, of which tepary beans are but one example!!

To avoid redundancy, each time i'll post a different article explaining why drought tolerant crops are the way to go, and really there are no other options, as years of water theft by San Joaquin agribusiness are coming to an end, so either convert to growing drought tolerant crops or please go out of business and let someone else who is willing to grow in the ecosystems' parameters try!!

"Growing sustainability in San Diego"

Mayoral candidate Jim Bell says growing and processing hemp and other drought tolerant multi-use fiber crops can play an important role in creating a sustainable economy in the San Diego/Tijuana region.

by Jim Bell

"Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere."

George Washington's 1794 note to Mt. Vernon's gardener

here are a number of promising drought tolerant crops that will grow well in our region.

"Guayule can be used to make rubber. Kenaf, an African plant, can be used as food and for making cloth, packing materials, carpet backing, and a high quality newsprint that is so absorbent that the hands of newspaper readers stay free of ink. The tepary bean contains as much or more protein than most other edible legume crops. Buffalo gourd, a perennial native to the Mojave Desert, has seeds that can be processed into lubrication oil and a starchy root that can be used to make alcohol. The jojoba bush produces a bean that can be processed into a high grade lubricant oil that can also be used in cosmetics."

article found @;

So what are the complaints coming from San Joaquin growers saying they cannot convert to drought tolerant crops? Not economically feasable to convert? Maybe the government can provide incentive to convert to drought tolerant, still would be cheaper than building a peripheral canal!!

My request is for the San Joaquin growers to be required to take classes in drought tolerant dryland farming, and read the following report in it's entire length if they wish to continue farming there, otherwise step down and let some other people try who are willing and able to grow drought tolerant crops with using less water;

Here's required reading for San Joaquin growers who want to stay in business (yes, i'm serious!!);

"Self-reliant Agriculture for Dry Lands"

by David A. Bainbridge

"The problems is..... One in seven people in the world live in semi-arid and arid regions. These people (more than one billion) are both cause and victim of increasing degradation of these fragile environments. Almost 2 in 3 of these people have been affected by the direct and indirect affects of deteriorating conditions, including insufficient or contaminated drinking water, inadequate calories and vitamins, inadequate fuelwood for cooking, and insufficient material for building.

More than 30 million square kilometers of the World's drylands are deteriorating under this pressure with serious and often tragic consequences for their inhabitants. Yet despite the magnitude of this problem little research has been undertaken to help these low-input dryland farmers.

Most of the research and development work on drylands agriculture has emphasized irrigated, high-input, intensive (expensive) production farming of commercial crops (wheat, corn, etc.) in monocultures. The focus on high yield with little concern for high risk and unsustainability has led to many environmental and economic tragedies.

This paper addresses the vast majority of dryland dwellers who are and will remain small family farmers growing most of their crops for personal use. These farmers must use water and biological resources efficiently and carefully to minimize risk and achieve moderate, reliable yields. Much can be learned from the traditional gathers and farmers of the Worlds drylands. These intelligent and hard working people have demonstrated the possibility ofestablishing stable, healthful, and enjoyable livelihoods in areas with less than 200 mm (8 inches) of precipitation a year, and as little as 75 mm (3 inches). With well planned water collection and management, careful selection and care of crops, and skillful design ofbuildings and facilities these practices can provide a sustainable living for the dryland dwellers of the world. This paper provides a brief review of some of the key issues required for sustainable resource management in dry lands. References are provided for follow-up reading. Research is urgently needed on many topics, to better understand the successes of various groups and to adapt them to new cultivars and environmental conditions.
Page 5

5 "The Papago Indians, by several hundred years of desert experience, are thoroughly conversant with the conditions in their country and with consummate judgment have so located their charcos and fields as to secure maximum results from the limited rainfall available. We cannot go into their country with the idea of teaching them farming or irrigation under conditions as we find them in other parts of the country. Any attempt to introduce modern farming methods, as we understand them elsewhere, would result in disaster."Clotts, 1917.

The key resource management questions of the dry lands are -- water, food, and shelter. 2. Water Skillful water management is the key to survival in the drylands. Rainfall is often erratic and may include intense, brief storms in summer and gentler storms with rain or snow in the winter. Settlement in very arid regions can be successful with appropriate design of water collection and storage systems and efficient water use. The Nabateans successfully farmed over 300,000 hectares of the Negev Desert highlands (rainfall <100 mm/yr) in Roman times using refined runoff designs and the indigenous people of the Southwestern United States have grown corn for more than a thousand years in areas with less than 150 mm (6 inches) of rain per year. Combining the skill and understanding of these highly evolved and skilled cultures with modern materials, scientific knowledge, mechanical equipment, and improved ability to select and modify plant materials (from around the world) has made it easier to develop sustainable practices for managing these dry lands. Methods to encourage and reinforce cultural attitudes that foster environmental conservation can also be learned from some of these cultures. The emphasis of most subsistence farming should be on rainfed agriculture with only limited use of super-efficient irrigation methods.

Rainfed agriculture is less likely to cause soil salinization than irrigated farming and is much less costly. It can be developed and managed without vast inputs of capital and energy for dams, canals, pumps, and wells. The most common elements of rainfed agriculture are: conservation farming, use of microcatchments and concentrating systems, and sophisticated runoff management and irrigation systems in more arid areas.

Page 6

A. Conservation Farming
The essential ingredients of water conservation in farming are: managing soil to minimize runoff and evaporation using a combination of tillage, surface shaping, mulch, and fallow; weed control to minimize unwanted evapotranspiration (uncontrolled weeds may consume 0.5 cm soil water per day); and timing crop production to maximize chances of success. The Western United States and Canada include more than 100 million hectares of dryland farms using water conservation practices (precipitation of 150-800 mm/yr). These lands produce primarily wheat and other small grains, yielding 1-3,000 kg/hectare with intensive management (equipment, fertilizer, and biocides). The environmental costs are high: severe wind and water erosion, salinization and formation of saline seeps, and contamination of the environment from biocides (particularly herbicides and pesticides) and chemical fertilizer. Despite these problems, much can be learned from the extensive research that has been conducted here. Many of the experimental techniques which have largely proved unworkable in commercial production--vertical mulching and various terracing and micro-watershed management systems--can be of value to the small-scale family farmer. a. Vertical mulchingVertical mulching has been very successful in increasing infiltration of rainwater and reducing erosion. This has been done both by machine and more commonly by hand. Bundles or lines of straw, reeds, or other materials are arranged along the contour or in a checkerboard pattern.

b. Terracing
Terracing is one of the most common responses to erosion and runoff retention. Although most people are more familiar with seeing the terraced rice paddies of China and Indonesia, similar enormous investments of labor are made to develop terraces for grains and crops in dry lands ranging from Yemen to China. Terrace development utilizing trees and shrubs to help build and maintain the terraces is not widely known but is effective in many situations
Page 7
7 c.


Ridging provides many benefits, including water collection and development of a microsite gradient that should provide favorable conditions for seeds over a wide precipitation range. Ridging is also very effective in areas that experience waterlogging or standing water at certain times of the year. Ridging also modifies the microclimate and can improve early seed germination. In areas adversely affected by low infiltration or compaction a deep ripping on the contour will help address these problems and create long lasting ridges.

d. Mulching

Mulching and composting can also provide many benefits. Native grasses with seed are excellent for mulching if they are available; but straw is also of value. High application rates with crimping or tackifiers to retain the straw are desirable, particularly on erosive slopes. Compost is very effective, but in drylands it must commonly be made in pits to retain moisture. These can be incorporated in orchards and gardens.

e. Conservation tillage

The traditional plows of the drylands, the ard, which goes back before Roman times, stirred the soil without inverting it. This is important in arid lands where soil fertility may decrease rapidly with depth. This also conserves moisture. Mechanized conservation tillage is increasingly used on fragile lands. Conventional clean plowing practices that invert the soil are being replaced by tillage equipment that leave stubble or plant material on the surface to reduce wind and water erosion. Ridge tillage and strip cultivation can provide similar benefits.

f. Weed control

Weed control is important to conserve moisture. Soil solarization, which uses solar energy to kill weeds, weed seeds, and pathogens in soils and soil mixes, is very effective in sunny, hot dry lands. Solarization is often much better than using herbicides, fumigants, and other hazardous and expensive pest control methods. Farmers of the Deccan plateau in India have long exploited a form of solar soil heating to control weeds. They plow the weedy soil just before the hottest summer period when maximum daily air temperatures usually exceed 40°C, then leave it fallow long enough for the high soil temperatures to kill many weeds, weed seeds, and soil pathogens.


Page 8

This technique is effective for bare soil only when the air temperatures are high and solar radiation is intense. The addition of a single layer of clear plastic can greatly increase heating and provide good control of weeds and pathogens in sunny areas where average maximum air temperatures approach 30°C for at least four weeks during the summer.

Recent studies at San Diego State University and Tuskegee University have demonstrated that increased temperatures can be reached with second layer of plastic (bubble-pack worked well at SDSU). This makes it feasible to solarize soil in cooler periods and with lower sun angles. Improved heating can also reduce the treatment time by as much as 50%. The influence of these high temperatures on weeds, seeds, and pathogens is complex and not fully understood. Solarization can be an effective tool in the struggle to control the weeds that take up a large percentage of small farmers field work and reduce crop yields. Deep rooted, heat tolerant weeds with rhizomes are usually suppressed but may not be killed by a single treatment. Adding compost and other soil amendments may improve control of the more resistant weedy species by increasing microbiological activity in the soil. The effectiveness of soil heating in reducing or eliminating common plant pathogens such as Fusarium, Verticillium, and root rots has stimulated most of the research on soil solarization. Control of some insect pests has also been noted. One of the pleasant side-effects of solarization is more rapid plant growth in treated soil. This effect exceeds the benefits provided by pathogen and weed control and probably reflects a number of interacting benefits including increased nutrient availability.

Page 9
Solarizing soil

Soil should be solarized during the hottest part of the year. Soil temperatures greater than 40°C for several weeks are desirable. Two or three soil thermometers at different depths will provide a good indication of how well the soil is heating. If soil temperatures are not reaching 35-40°C a small test plot (5 sq. m.) of doubled plastic can be monitored to determine the potential soil temperature rise with a second layer of plastic. Cultivate the area thoroughly and then level the surface, removing stubble, sticks, and stones that can tear the plastic sheeting. Apply 2-3 cm of irrigation water to dry soils if possible, just before laying the polyethylene sheeting. The moisture improves the heat capacity of the soil and increases heat transfer. Fertilizer and soil amendments may be applied before the plastic is laid. Some soil amendments have improved the weed and pathogen killing effect of solarization. Apply sheets of clear (not black or colored) 2 mil polyethylene (4-6 mil in windy areas) when it is least windy. The plastic will flap less if it is smooth and in contact with the surface. The thinner plastic lets more solar energy through but is relatively fragile. Use wide sheets to minimize joints and place the edges of adjacent polyethylene sheets in furrows and cover them with soil. Bury the free edges, and compact the soil around the sheets to reduce the loss of heated air and moisture. Place weights 2-3 m apart on the sheeting to prevent the plastic from flapping and tearing in the wind. Rounded river stones or small soil or sand filled plastic bags (fist-sized) can be gently placed on the plastic. When planning the layout leave sufficient space for access and drainage, either to a drain channel or to other plantings.

Solarization may provide double benefits when it is used to concentrate the runoff from the plastic for crops or trees. The polyethylene sheeting should be patched with tape if holes develop. Although farmers in the developed countries often plant into holes punched in the sheet, stronger plastic can be removed and reused for several seasons. If the soil is too wet when the plastic is removed let it dry to a workable texture before planting. If you cultivate after treatment, keep cultivation shallow (preferably less than 5 cm) to avoid moving viable weed seeds from the deep soil to the surface. Soil solarization does not work against all weeds and pathogens, requires the use of chemicals and energy to make the polyethylene, and eventually leaves a plastic waste for disposal. But it is much cleaner and safer than herbicides and fungicides and often as effective. Soil solarization can also be very effective in preparing soil mixes for container or garden plant production. Higher temperatures can be reached if the soil mix is treated on an insulated base.

Page 10

10 B. Microwatersheds and Microcatchments

Microwatershed systems include mound and strip collectors. Strips can be built with mechanical equipment or by hand. The strips are bordered on each side by ridges from 3-16 feet (1-5 meters) apart. The result is a series of linear strips well suited for crops such as corn. In mound systems the soil surface is shaped by hand into 4-20 inch (10-50 cm) tall mounds spaced 1-5 meters apart. When organized into a regular pattern, this systemis suitable for many types of farm crops, including melons and squash. A gently sloping plain (ideally with slopes less than 5%) can be divided into plots by small earth ridges 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) high and 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) wide. The ridges are constructed with the soil excavated from a planting basin about 16 inches (40 cm) deep. The ridges can be constructed by hand or with a small plow. The waffle gardens of the Zuni people are a combination of ridge and strip collectors that look much like a waffle print. The ridges are packed smooth and serve as walkways and water runoff areas.

Microcatchment basins of various designs have been used for thousands of years. These basins concentrate precipitation where the crops will be grown. Experiments have shown that under arid conditions a higher relative water yield can be achieved with small rather than large catchment areas. Smaller areas are also easier to build with limited equipment and labor and less likely to fail during intense storms. Microcatchments have been used continuously in South Tunisia since they were introduced by the Phoenicians. Over 10 million olive trees are cultivated in this area. Microcatchments have also been used with considerable success in Israel, Mexico, Africa, and the Southwest U.S. The gradients of the microcatchments should fall between 1-7%. Square or rectangular plots are most commonly used. They can be built by hand or with equipment. Protective diversion ditches are often constructed above catchment areas in areas subject to extensive ground flow. Trees or shrubs are not planted at the bottom of the basin but on a mound or on the ridge to prevent water-logging problems when the basin is full. Yields from microcatchments can be estimated if the average annual rainfall, peak rainfall intensity, and the minimum expected annual precipitation are known. Site factors, including the runoff producing potential; the soil surface condition (cover, vegetation, crust, stoniness); the gradient and evenness of slope; and the water retaining capacity of the soil in the root zone profile are also important.

Other factors affecting the infiltration 11 capacity of a particular area include: the moisture content of the soil; macro-pores in the soil as a result of decaying roots or burrowing animals; and the compaction of the soil. Normal precipitation for the area where the catchment is planned, the soil quality, and the slope, the size and depth of the planting basin in relation to the size of the catchment area, and other factors determine the size of the surface area wetted by runoff and the volume and depth of the water column in the soil. If a shrub requiring 30 inches of rain per year is being grown in a region of 15 inch average annual precipitation, then an additional 15 inches of rain is needed. If the catchment soil has a runoff of 10% (a typical runoff volume for untreated desert soils), then a 1000 square foot catchment should yield enough water to meet the water requirement for the shrub. Removing vegetation commonly increases the runoff by decreasing the infiltration rate. Surface infiltration capacities are commonly proportional to vegetation cover, so as vegetation cover decreases infiltration decreases. This results in greater volume, depth, and runoff velocity. The development of biological surface crusts has considerable potential for increasing runoff in microcatchment basins. These cryptogamic crusts can decrease infiltration and increase runoff. Several runoff enhancing treatments have been evaluated on microcatchment basins. Paraffin can be applied to the basin soil by hand, in the form of granules, at a rate of one to two pounds per square yard. Paraffin will melt within a few days in the hot desert environments to form a solid wax covering on the soil surface. The wax treated soils yielded 90% runoff compared to 10-30% runoff on untreated soils, and close to 100% runoff from a butyl covered plot. Wax treatments are best for sandy soils, and some plots have remained effective after five years, sufficient time for tree or shrub establishment. Many types of synthetic membrane materials have also been used. Plastic membranes, such as polyethylene and vinyl, are effective but generally last less than two years. These materials have been used on extensive revegetation projects in China. Butyl rubber and chlorinated polyethylene sheeting lasts much longer, but these materials are more expensive. Rock formations, packed earth, plastered areas (including indigenous manure/clay plasters), asphalt, concrete, and other hard surfaces can also be used to channel water to catchment basin plantings. The catchment systems developed in Australia for watering stock, particularly the roaded catchment, can very useful for the small farmer. Precipitation enhancement can enable the farmer to grow crops that would not survive otherwise.

Page 12
These may be cash crops or preferred foods for vitamins or calories, such as citrus, olives, apples, apricots, or grapes. The effectiveness of catchments may be improved by digging pits near the crops and filling them with organic matter. These in effect, become compost pits (as anyone who has lived in a dry arid area this is one of the only ways to get compost to work) and fertilizer sources. They also get water down and out of the evaporation zone. This has been developed to its greatest extent in India. C. Pitting Other low-cost techniques that have been successful include the use of disks that have been modified to create pits which provide a variety of microsites and collect water. Pits may be made 30-60 cm (1-2 feet) wide and long and 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) deep. Larger pits may be more effective than small pits in very arid areas. Pits are most effective on slopes of less than 8% where natural infiltration is limited. These can also be dug by hand, using a large hoe. A team of people can pit a large area in one day. If seeds are placed in the pits good establishment of plants may occur. These are very effective for revegetation of denuded areas as treatment cost per acre can be very low. They have been used most widely in Australia.

D. Imprinting

Imprinters are heavily weighted rotating drums that force angular teeth into the soil surface. These teeth marks form the fluid exchange funnels that facilitate rainwater infiltration. The imprinter doesn't make continuous furrows that can concentrate and channel rainwater and move topsoil and plant residues from even gently sloping hillsides. The imprinter establishes interconnected water shedding and water absorbing imprints. Seed germination and seedling establishment can both be improved by imprinting. Funnel-shaped imprints concentrate water, seed, litter, and topsoil together where these resources can improve seed germination and seedling establishment. The imprint also provides an improved and protected microsite to shield tender young plants from the desiccating effects of the hot sun and dry winds.
Page 13
13 E.

Runoff farming

Very sophisticated methods of runoff farming have been developed and used in Jordan, Yemen, the Negev Desert of Israel, Mexico, North Africa, Australia, and the American Southwest. These systems include a variety of techniques, including: 1) contour ditches to collect slope runoff -- with or without treatment to increase runoff; 2) dams of brush or stone to raise stream water high enough to fill side ditches which irrigate adjacent fields; 3) check dams of brush or stone to hold water long enough to fill field capacity; 4) planting in alluvial fans where water is naturally concentrated; 5) planting alongside or using water naturally concentrated by rock outcrops; and 6) planting directly in the water course as the water level falls, and 7) planting in washes and arroyos and accepting the risk of loss in a flood. The traditional farmers of the Southwestern North America may have farmed successfully for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years with modest environmental decline. These skilled farmers have much to offer small farmers in other lands who wish to increase production, reduce risk, and ensure long-term sustainability. The three primary factors in this effort are efficient and careful water and soil management and use of a broader base of genetic resources. The development of agricultural methods that maintain fertility with locally grown inputs is also important. As Gary Nabhan discovered, O'odham families sought out places where moist, rich litter has accumulated beneath mesquite trees, dig up the top 2-3 feet, and take it to the farmfields. Mesquite trees were also a source of fertility for crops that were grown among them, they can fix 30-40 kg of atmospheric nitrogen per hectare per year with only 30% canopy cover and the soil beneath them is often very fertile. Nitrogen fixation may take place at 5-8 meters depth and these deep roots can provide little competition for shallow-rooted crop plants grown nearby. Mesquite intercrops are common in India. The floodwaters in these desert ecosystems often carry large amounts of rodent dung, leaves from nitrogen fixing trees, litter, and twigs. Enough material may come to floodwater irrigated fields in these floods to add an inch of organic matter a year. Alternatives to the basic grains that are better suited for small farmers in lands with limited or uncertain water availability must also be considered. The special genetic adaptations of grains, beans, and corn developed by the farmers over hundreds of years will also be of great value for international development. These techniques are proven and in combination could enable the inhabitants of many of the drylands of the world to achieve much better yields. Developing a program to help
Page 14

these skilled flood-water farmers to assist less experienced dryland dwellers in other areas deserves special attention. Refining these strategies for different soils, rainfall regimes, and crops is an important task which has received little attention. The stream channel protection plantings in northern Sonora also deserve much wider recognition. The local farmers plant cuttings of cottonwoods and willows in long lines at the river edges of their fields. These living fences are then completed by weaving thorny branches between the trunks. The tree roots protect the fields from erosion and the fence helps reduce flow across the fields so floodwaters deposit their rich silt on the field. F. Super-efficient irrigation Specialty crops or "survival insurance" crops can be grown with supplemental water from deep pipe irrigation or unglazed pitchers set in the ground. Both offer maximumwater efficiency with relatively simple operation. Experiments with buried clay pot irrigation have shown that crops can be produced with an effective water use around 20 mm/ha. a. Deep pipe irrigationDeep pipe irrigation is commonly done with 1" to 3" diameter pipe (bamboo, hollowed out sunflower stem, or ... ) placed 12-18" (or deeper) into the soil under or near the crop plant or tree. Several pipes are used for a full grown tree. These may be filled with water bottles placed in the pipe (observed in Kenya), filled with water from jug, or fitted with a drip emitter. Deep pipe irrigation is better than surface or buried drip systems in several respects. First, it can be used with low quality water and low technology. Second, even in areas where the materials and technology for drip systems are available the deep pipe systemprovides the benefits of buried drip, greater water use efficiency (due to reduced evaporation) and weed control; but these surface mounted deep delivery drip systems can be monitored and repaired much more easily. And, finally, the pipes can be collected at the end of the season for tillage operations to any depth desired. Experiments in Africa and the California desert have showed that deep pipe irrigation is much more efficient than surface drip or conventional surface irrigation. Grape vine weight on the deep pipe drip system five times greater than conventional surface irrigation and more than double standard drip irrigation. Roots reached 100 cmhorizontally with conventional surface irrigation, only 60 cm with surface drip, and 175
Page 15

cm with deep pipe drip irrigation. Deep pipe drip develops a much larger effective rooting volume and would produce a plant much better adapted to survive on its own after establishment. Deep pipe irrigation has provided excellent performance in the Colorado Desert. Survival of trees was 80% compared to total failure of surface irrigated trees given the same amount of water. Growth was almost as good as buried clay pot irrigation and the response of the deep pipe plants was better after a desert rain. b. Buried clay pot irrigationThe buried clay pot method is one of the most efficient systems of irrigation known. Buried clay pot irrigation uses a buried, unglazed clay pot filled with water to provide controlled irrigation to plants near it. These can either be filled by hand if labor is inexpensive or connected to a pipe network or reservoir. Earthenware pots are usually porous and work well. If red clay nursery pots are used the drain hole in the bottom should be plugged with a stopper or sealed with silicone caulk. The water seeps out through the clay wall at a rate that is influenced by the plant's water use. This leads to very high efficiency--considerably better than drip irrigation and as much as ten times more efficient than conventional surface irrigation. The book Fan Sheng-chih Shu describes the use of buried clay pot irrigation in China more than 2,000 years ago. Current practices remain much the same. Make 530 pits per hectare (210 pits per acre), each pit 70 cm (24 inches) across and 12 cm (5 inches) deep. To each pit add 18 kilograms (38 lbs) of manure. Mix the manure well with an equal amount of earth. Bury an earthen jar of 6 liters (1.5 gallons) capacity in the center of the pit. Let its mouth be level with the ground. Fill the jar with water. Plant 4 melon seeds around the jar. Cover the jar with a tile. Always fill jar to the brink if the water level falls. Buried clay pot irrigation has been used for a wide range of annual and perennial plants including: melons, tomatoes, corn, onions, and many other annual crops in China, Pakistan, India, Mexico, and Brazil; pistachio trees in Iran, mesquite, acacia, and eucalyptus in Pakistan, fruit trees in India and Mexico, citrus in Brazil, and palo verde in the California desert. It has worked well for most crops in our trials in Mexico, Arizona, and California. Some spreading squash and melons have not done well if the pots were overwatered.

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