California’s drought: if you live and farm in the state there’s little else you could be told to illustrate just how bad it is for the state’s agriculture industry. One of those impacts stretches off the farm and onto the test plots of the state’s Land Grant institution, which this year celebrates its centennial of cooperative work with California agriculture.

The University of California Cooperative Extension is not an unlikely victim of the drought, though theirs is not an impact that will cause them to lose the farm. Still, they see and feel it.

Many growers in California will receive no surface water allocation this year because of the drought. Neither will the University of California’s Westside Research and Extension Center (WSREC) near Five Points, which gets its surface water from Westlands Water District.

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The center also receives water from a deep well located on the 320-acre facility, but that well is not sufficient to irrigate all the farming operations that go on there, according to Bob Hutmacher, center director and a cooperative Extension farm advisor specializing in cotton, water issues and nutrient management.

Even if the well had the pumping capacity and the aquifer could sustain the level of pumping, Hutmacher says the quality of water is too salty for crops like vegetables and almonds. The marginal water can be safely used with some crops, such as cotton, cereal, grains and pistachios. Blended with the high quality Westlands water when it is available, Hutmacher says he is able to stretch his water supply and achieve good research results.

Without the high quality water from Westlands Water District, the research station is limited in what it can do from a research standpoint.