New market planned to pay farmers for soil carbon, water quality

General Mills, ADM, Cargill, McDonalds, and The Nature Conservancy are among 10 companies and nonprofit organizations that are forming a national market by 2022 to incentivize the adoption of farming practices that build soil carbon and improve water conservation.

High costs for small towns to remove nitrate from drinking water

Some 1,700 U.S. communities have worrisomely high levels of nitrate in their water supplies, and two-thirds of those communities, serving more than 3 million people, have no treatment system to remove it, said an Environmental Working Group report released today.

Climate and culture change threaten New Mexico’s ancient irrigation canals

For hundreds of years, a network of earthen canals that ribbon through New Mexico have been central to a thriving small-farm scene and a communal way of life. But those canals, called acequias, and the way of life they support, are being pushed to the brink by a changing climate, a development boom, and the imperatives of the modern economy, says Alexis Adams in FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)

Iowa offers incentive to farmers who plant cover crops

Iowa, which has been embroiled in controversies over agricultural runoff and water-quality issues, has announced a novel program to give farmers who plant cover crops a $5-per-acre discount on their crop insurance over the next three years, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Colorado farmers pump less and pay more for water

A decade or more ago, farmers in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado began to run out of irrigation water. The solution, after years of court cases and finger-pointing, was an agreement to raise the price of water, says the NPR blog The Salt.

Studies offer gloomy prospects for western water supplies

Three new studies show that the West is running low on water, and that much of that decline is a result of climate change, says High Country News.

Massive vineyard seen as threat to Napa Valley’s water

A coalition of environmental groups, a homeowners’ organization and a public water agency in Napa County have filed appeals against a sprawling hillside vineyard project that they argue imperils water resources, sensitive habitat and the climate in the heart of wine country.

Report: Ag is largest source of nitrate pollution in California

Synthetic fertilizer accounts for more than a third of the 1.8 million tons of new nitrogen entering California each year, and animal feed accounts for another 12 percent, making agriculture the largest single source of nitrate pollution in the state, according to a new report from the UC Davis Agriculture Sustainability Institute and the University of California division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Western Kansas tests drip irrigation delivered from a center pivot

Three farmers in western Kansas are partnering with a state agency in a test of thrifty irrigation systems that require less water to grow crops in the Plains

As aquifer level drops, Idaho proposes water management

Water levels in the aquifer underlying eastern Idaho are plummeting, so state officials have proposed creation of the East Snake Plain Aquifer groundwater management area, says The Associated Press. The result would be a plan that parcels out water to farmers and other users in predictable amounts rather than abrupt cutbacks when the holders of senior rights to the water claim their share.