Farm Water Steward Award

The Pacific Institute, one of the world’s leading research institutions on water and sustainability, marked its 25th Anniversary in 2012, celebrating by inaugurating the Farm Water Steward Award to recognize leaders and innovators in the California agricultural community. Each year a Farm Water Steward Award winner is chosen from success stories submitted on the Interactive Database of Ag Water Stewardship Case Studies, launched by the Pacific Institute and California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply, which features innovative and effective efforts of farmers who work to improve on-farm and regional water management.

2014 Farm Water Steward Award

Listen to just the audio interview with Tom Rogers (.mp3)
Read a case study on Tom Rogers’s smart irrigation scheduling. 

Madera County almond grower Tom Rogers is the recipient of the 2014 Farm Water Steward Award for his leadership in employing irrigation technologies and demonstrating how they can help improve on-farm water-use efficiency. The award was jointly presented by the Pacific Institute, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), and Ag Innovations Network at an award dinner celebration at the T.S. Glide Ranch in Davis, Calif.  A third-generation farmer, Rogers has reduced water use by up to 20% by improving irrigation scheduling techniques – combining careful soil moisture monitoring and weather information from on-site stations to precisely determine the timing and amount of irrigation water to apply to his almond trees. By doing so, he also has improved crop yield, producing more crop per drop and improving water-use efficiency.

“For economically viable and environmentally sound growing and distribution of food, we look to farmers like Tom Rogers,” said Gisela Wendling of Ag Innovations Network. “The on-farm practices that keep his farm thriving while being a good steward of the water – and his willingness to share his experience with other growers – helps create a vibrant future for California agriculture.”

Presenters at the award dinner included: Sandy Schubert, undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Gabriele Ludwig of the California Almond Board; Dave Runsten of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers; Gisela Wendling of the Ag Innovations Network; Anna Bee Szendrenyi and Heather Cooley of the Pacific Institute; and Juliet Christian-Smith of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The agriculture organizations and other partners in the agricultural community were recognized for their work to help sustain a vibrant agricultural community and sector in California in the future.

An audio interview and slideshow with Farm Water Steward Award winner Tom Rogers is available here. A longer video and case study on Tom Rogers’s success with smart irrigation scheduling is also included in the Pacific Institute California Farm Water Success Stories series, which documents how agricultural water stewardship practices are at work on-the-ground and at the farm- and irrigation-district level, here.

Read more about the 2014 Farm Water Steward Award.

Read more about the California Farm Water Success Stories

2012 Farm Water Steward Award

 Read a case study on John Stephens’s riparian restoration. 

Yolo County farmer John Stephens received the inaugural Farm Water Steward Award from the Pacific Institutepresented at an award dinner celebration on World Water Day 2012, March 22, at the T.S. Glide Ranch in Davis, Calif. A fourth-generation farmer on the Oakdale Ranch, John Stephens worked with Audubon California to improve water quality, drainage, and wildlife habitat on his property by restoring Willow Slough, which runs through his property. This work addressed major watershed concerns in the area, including a lack of vegetated riparian corridors and high rates of erosion and sedimentation of local waterways, as identified by the Yolo County RCD and Cache Creek Watershed Stakeholders Group. In the future, Stephens hopes that his riparian restoration project will be linked to other projects, creating a healthy riparian corridor along the length of Willow Slough.

The Stephens Family has owned and operated the 400-acre Oakdale Ranch in Esparto, Calif. since 1852. John Stephens’s waterway restoration project on the ranch is one of the California Farm Water Success Stories from the Pacific Institute.

“John put in so much of his own resources and his own wonderful energy to have the vision for better water and restored habitat,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, who serves on the Steering Committee of the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply. “His success is a great example and resource for other farmers, and he’s creating a tremendous legacy for his family. The Pacific Institute is proud to have him as the first Farm Water Stewards Award honoree.”

Presenters at the 2012 award dinner included: Craig McNamara of the California Board of Food and Agriculture, the Honorable Senator Lois Wolk, Dave Runsten of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and Katy Mamen of the Ag Innovations Network.

Read more about the 2012 Farm Water Steward Award

Read more about the California Farm Water Success Stories