Last year, the federal government gave farmer Dan Errotabere half of the water it had awarded him the previous year to cultivate his 5,200 acres. But he still managed to reap a yield as much as 25 percent higher.
"I've got to do more with less," said Errotabere, 57, who grows cotton, tomatoes, almonds and pistachios among other crops on his family's ranch in the Central Valley northwest of Visalia.
His trick? The increasingly popular drip-tape method of irrigation, which pumps water directly to a plant's roots.
"I personally don't think it's feasible to do without tape now," Errotabere said. "Setting aside the water savings, we just do better growing crops with drip."
Years of drought-mandated rationing have left farmers frustrated with unreliable allotments of scarce water resources each year, threatening the state's $43.5-billion agricultural industry. And with the state in a moderate to severe drought for the last 15 months, they aren't likely to see matters easing soon.
That has forced growers to embrace a series of water-saving measures.
For more, see: Farmers turn to drip-tape irrigation to save water
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