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Exceptional Drought in the World’s “Salad Bowl”

In January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency. Described as one of the three worst droughts in over a century, more than 80% of California is now in a state of extreme or exceptional drought. The drought will cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion and more than 17,000 jobs. Impacts across the entire state include idled farmland and associated farm worker job losses, farm income losses, and food price increases. The state’s dwindling reservoir supply has resulted in mandatory water cutbacks and unprecedented fines for some, but no region of California has conserved as much water as Governor Brown has requested (20% cutback) and water use actually increased 1 percent in urban areas last May.

From http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The economic impact will be even higher in California’s Central Valley, where many of the cities with the worst drought conditions are located. Salinas Valley is the “Salad Bowl of the World,” as it produces approximately 70% of the nation’s lettuce. Although the world’s salad bowl is in serious jeopardy due to the drought and increasing heat, hydroponics offers a miraculous solution. Whereas soil-based farms lose most of the water to drainage, hydroponics systems lose only the water that is transpired through the leaves as water vapor. This means that hydroponic-based farming could save up to 90% of the water lost to traditional soil-based farming.