Scientists at Berkeley Lab’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Area (EESA) and Biosciences Area are sharing their expertise with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)’s Science Advisory Panel, a group comprised of farmers, agriculture professionals, and experts in areas such as water, conservation, and resource management. Last week, EESA scientist Peter Nico hosted the panel at the Lab to brief them on research related to developing healthy soils, sustainable groundwater management strategies, and climate-adaptive agriculture.
One strategy that EESA is studying (in partnership with the Almond Board of California and UC Davis) is groundwater recharge, a process that could help to prevent the depletion of groundwater levels by replenishing aquifers in wet years. During times of heavy rainfall, excess water can be directed from the surface to the subsurface through flooding the fields or orchards of crops that can withstand the higher volume (such as almond trees and wine grapes). As a result, that water is “banked” as groundwater that can be used in times of future need.
But in order to understand the full impact of groundwater recharge, scientists and policymakers must also be aware of which areas of the subsurface are well-suited to banking, and where that water will go once it hits below the surface. Other pieces of information—such as how long it will take for the water to get there, the quality of the water, and how it will affect energy use and land subsidence—are also essential to determine impact. EESA is conducting research to answer these questions using time-lapse geophysical imaging, i