As Tracy Schohr goes about her day, water is always on her mind. She’s thinking of it as she rides an all-terrain vehicle around the pasture, looks up hay prices and weather forecasts, and collects data on grazing and invasive weeds for a scientific study. Schohr is a rancher and farmer in Gridley, California, where her family has raised beef cattle and grown rice for six generations. She also aids in scientific research to study drought and other agricultural issues with the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Climate change and a growing world population require efficient use of natural resources. Water is a crucial component in food production, and water management strategies are needed to support worldwide changes in food consumption and dietary patterns.
Agricultural production and food manufacturing account for a third of water usage in the U.S. Water use fluctuates with weather patterns but is also affected by shifts in production technology, supply-chain linkages, and domestic and foreign consumer demand.
As a fifth-generation rancher in Colorado, Paul Bruchez knows the value of water. Not only does he raise cattle irrigated by the Colorado River and its nearby tributaries, Bruchez runs a fly-fishing business on those same streams.