Fallowing Alternatives Study Underway
Last updated 11/9/2023 at 2:33pm
BWD, Borrego Springs Watermaster and T2 are cooperating together on a farmland fallowing study to look at alternatives that can be incorporated over the years as farmland is retired and water rights transferred. The Borrego Subbasin Groundwater Management Plan (GMP) lists several projects and management actions (PMAs) that are intended to support the reduction of groundwater pumping. The GMP recognizes that fallowing of agricultural lands will be a primary tool to reduce groundwater demands. However, there are several adverse impacts that could be associated with land fallowing, including airborne emissions through wind-blown dust, the introduction or spreading of invasive plant species, and changes to the landscape that could adversely affect visual quality.
The Watermaster’s Environmental Working Group (EWG) contends that biological restoration of current and future fallowed lands (or abandoned, if fallowed for longer than five years) could be a solution for addressing the potential adverse impacts associated with land fallowing, and could be helpful in protecting human health, the environment, and the socioeconomic wellbeing of the Borrego Springs community during GMP implementation.
The Rehabilitation of Retired Farmland project is implemented by Land IQ and UCI under the supervision of the EWG and under contract with the Watermaster. The specific study described herein aims to explore the feasibility of various biological restoration/rehabilitation techniques.
The goal of this task is to design economical fallowing practices that serve multiple functions including dust control by reducing wind driven erosion, microsites for seed/litter accumulation and conditions beneficial to native plant recruitment such as shading and perches for seed dispersal. The Study is funded by a California Proposition 68 Grant and the results are expected by Spring 2025.