Publication Date

2016

Comments

Published by undergraduate students at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

Abstract

California’s almond industry uses over 1.2 trillion gallons of freshwater annually, more water than is used by almost any other crop. Although California is in a severe drought, its almond industry is expanding because the crop is a valuable commodity, providing California with more than $11 billion to its gross state product each year. While almond production is inherently water intensive, current agricultural processes in the San Joaquin Valley waste almost 50% of the freshwater it uses each year from over-watering, runoff 6 , evaporation, and contamination 35.

Much of this waste can be eliminated if various California stakeholders work together to address the sources of these inefficiencies. Fixing all sources of water waste associated with almond production would save California 600 billion gallons of freshwater each year.

To help conserve freshwater in California, ECO Connection facilitates cooperation between these relevant stakeholders in order to solve the problems within the almond industry. Our mission at ECO Connection is to sustain environmental, economic, and social growth in California through water-waste reduction. By partnering with farmers and other local stakeholders, we design and manufacture irrigation systems reusing end-of-life and recyclable materials that bolster fresh water-use efficiency and foster healthy and responsible agricultural nut production.

Our services come in three stages. The first step is to install drip irrigation systems on our clients’ almond orchards to reduce the amount of water that they use to produce their almonds. These irrigation systems will be produced with minimal negative ecological impacts (see Product section for details).

The second step in our services is to protect the freshwater that our clients use by applying organic pesticides and fertilizers to their orchards. Standard agricultural practices use inorganic pesticides and fertilizers, which degrade the freshwater quality downstream from orchards. This leads to freshwater reserves exceeding maximum contaminant levels from nitrates (see California Almond Industry Trends for details). Providing our clients with organic alternatives will remove their contributions to agriculture’s water contamination, while still protecting their trees from pests.

Finally, we will arrange for bees to go to our clients’ orchards to help pollinate the trees. Effective pollination from bees will maximize almond output per water input. This will allow our clients to satisfy the world’s demand for almonds without increasing the amount of freshwater they apply to their orchards.

Although some of our clients may not be equipped financially to pay for our services, ECO Connection lobbies for its farmers to be subsidized by the California Almond Board. This, in addition to donations to our nonprofit organization, will help our clients invest in systems that conserve California’s freshwater.

Our team is passionate, and committed to preserving California’s freshwater while also sustaining our clients’ livelihoods.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.