With the Californian drought now in its fourth year and more than nine percent of mainland US states suffering from a D3 to D4 drought, water is currently a hot topic in farming circles. With climate change seeming to be an uncomfortable reality rather than a wayward theory, it’s prudent for farmers to start planning for an unpredictable fluid future.

The California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative (CAWSI) has proposed a number of on-farm practices for sound water management, including regular system maintenance, use of recycled water, construction of on-farm ponds to capture and store rainwater, runoff, and irrigation scheduling coupled with soil moisture monitoring. CAWSI also suggests that better soil management should be a key weapon in farmers’ drought proofing arsenal.

By building soil organic matter (SOM), producers can drastically increase the water retention properties of their land. Studies estimate that for every one per cent increase in SOM, soils can hold an additional 16,000 gallons of water in the top foot of soil. While planting winter cover crops and a reduced pattern of tilling are unquestionably beneficial for soil structure, supplementation with humic substances is also worthy of consideration. At a molecular level, humic substances have a large surface area and this, paired with their internal electrical charge, meaning they act like water sponges capable of holding seven times their volume in water. They also aid in the formation of friable topsoil structure which facilitates improved gaseous interchange and greater water infiltration.

All of this means that growers who apply humic supplements can frequently harvest a crop during periods of drought and will suffer less from the effects of intense rainfall. Food for thought in these uncertain times. Humic Harvest is an organic humic acid manufacturer in the USA, specialising in supplying humates derived using a patent pending water extraction method, at an affordable price.