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Research Project: A Water Sensitivity Analysis for Sustaining Irrigated Agriculture in the Southwest

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research

Project Number: 2032-12610-002-010-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Jun 15, 2022
End Date: Dec 30, 2023

The objectives of this proposal are to: (1) enhance climate resilience for Southwest agriculture by identifying water-related knowledge gaps, and (2) enhance climate resilience and build climate awareness through first understanding and then communicating to agriculture professionals climate vulnerabilities and modeled future water sensitivity for regionally and economically important cropping systems.

We propose to design and facilitate a workshop bringing together experts from universities, government agencies, and extension from across the region to share what is known and what is unknown about the challenges the Southwest faces at the irrigated agriculture-water-climate nexus. Workshop attendees will collaboratively identify priority action items to address knowledge gaps that, when addressed, support climate-smart decision making and increase the climate resilience of irrigated agriculture in the region. The outcomes from this workshop will be summarized in a report or peer-reviewed paper. As an initial line of research that we anticipate will support priority research efforts identified during the workshop, we propose to quantify the climate-mediated vulnerabilities and water sensitivity of high-value crops across the region (e.g., almonds, wine grapes, tomatoes, cotton, pecans). These analyses will be spatially explicit at the groundwater basin scale. Our analyses at the groundwater basin scale, coupled with an evaluation of potential adaptation actions geared towards water use efficiency (e.g., AgMAR, drought and heat resilient cultivars, etc.) could theoretically demonstrate means for reducing vulnerability on both a crop and groundwater basin basis. This research will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publication(s) and via translational products (e.g., fact sheets, websites, executive summaries, etc.) that will integrate well into existing online resources such as Cal-AgroClimate, a one-stop-shop for climate and weather-related information and decision support tools relevant for agricultural producers.