The video is very short, but in eight seconds it shows the stupidity of bad agricultural practices in Central California, practices that have led to disaster in the past, and maybe into our immediate future as well.
|Muddy runoff from an almond orchard east of Modesto. That's soil going away, never to return|
So why is it that I'm ranting on this subject today? We had a freak storm roll through the area this afternoon. In about twenty minutes we accumulated 0.5 inches of rain, and the sky was alive with thunder and lightning. We even had a funnel cloud over our village east of Modesto (video here). The skies cleared and the storm drifted east. I decided to make a slight detour on my way to work, so I headed east on Lake Road towards Turlock Reservoir and came across a shocking scene (for our region anyway): a hail-covered landscape.
In other words, these "farmers" (really investment groups) are breaking one of the most important lessons of the Dust Bowl era. To farm in a sustainable manner, one needs to work with the land, not against it. One of the main causes of soil loss in the Dust Bowl days was erosion of furrows that sloped towards the gullies and valleys because of an insistence on plowing in perfectly symmetrical rows no matter the underlying topography.
The problem was made most clear as I was driving south on Hawkins Road (below). On the right side of the road, you can see the recently planted orchard, and the muddy water that is washing off the slope. In the foreground, the water on the road is clear. That's because the slope to my right was covered with prairie grass, not orchard.