NOAA RISA’s CIRC Team: Scientists and farmers make better decisions together

NOAA RISA’s CIRC Team: Scientists and farmers make better decisions together

Atmostpheric Music William Hazen: Without water for irrigation, primarily through storage water, there would be no Agriculture in southern Idaho. I’ve spent my entire career in the Magic Valley area and in the Big Wood River drainage. This basin has been noted for wide swings and snow pack and so we’re either too much or too little, seldom is it just right. All too often our farmers have dwarfed into one or only maybe two crops and they’re going to have to look at being able to be more flexible if they’re going to be able to survive. John Stevenson: CIRC works with communities across the big wood and our approach from the very beginning was to think about this problem that climate change will present and identify really who is affected by and who will be affected by climate change into the future in the Bog Wood basin. My work was really focused on filling this gap between what is an enormous amount of scientific information and actually community action, people responding and using that information. Brett Stevenson: I grew up in this area on a farm. My family’s been farming here for about forty five years. The snowpack was pretty substantial and I was a child and then in recent years we’ve definitely seen a decline in the snowpack and-and therefore a decline in the overall water supply in the entire basin. I think where I’m optimistic is the new irrigation technologies and different crops. We planted some cover crops and cover crops are fantastic because they improve the soil composition. It retains water better so you need less water for irrigation. Historically we’ve grown just barley and rotated it some with alfalfa. Alfalfa is pretty water intensive. Barley less but what I’m doing with my brother is experimenting with different types of grains that are going to use less water. My field the water just ran off, and in your field, with the cover crop the water stayed in the soil, saved us fertilizer, saved us water, and we saved all of those nutrients. Brett: That’s great. John: Hey Brett Hey John, nice to see you John: How are things? Brett: Great John Stevenson: What we’re basically saying is the things that you guys are doing are really setting you guys up [00:02:52.10into the future if you continue to do it and do it on a basin scale. Brett Stevenson: Yeah and we know intuitively that these things are-are- they feel like the right step but it’s so valuable to have the science to back it up to say that this is the right direction. What CIRC has provided has really created a data rich environment for us and I think we’re really benefiting from the scientific information and modeling that’s available to us. We are hoping to have a much clearer idea of what kind of causes what kind of curtailment so we know, say in March, what to expect as far as water availability throughout the growing season. CIRC models help us understand what kind of expectations we can see as far as water supply in the future and we can change our practices accordingly and our management accordingly. We’re starting to understand the timing of the aquifer flow and when it surfaces and moves downstream so if the downstream users need it we would focus recharge in different areas. So it can really be targeted, which I think is neat and science will allow us to do that. John Stevenson: So it’s really by collaborations between research scientists and communities that we really help identify what are the important questions that need to be answered and then build a scientific process to answer that question. William Hazen: We never know it all but we got to use the best we got now and certainly the climate models are indicating we probably need to change what we’re doing. Young farmers are going to be impacted by climate change more so than the past generation has. What people will have to contend with in forty or fifty years will depend on what we do now and everybody has pretty well bought into the concept of the methodology that was used. The CIRC program has really been a value and engaging program. John Stevenson: That’s what makes these collaboration’s ultimately work is that these communities are teaching us as much as we’re teaching them. It’s kind of this idea that if you take information and you actually turn it into mutual understanding. Ambient Music

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