Arlan Thomas is an organic almond grower who was motivated to replenish
the overdrafted aquifer below his farm to save his well from drying up and to
prevent land subsidence. The organic farm used vegetative cover crops in
alternate rows to help increase the water infiltration rate on the orchard
floor. This farm has desirable Soil Agricultural Groundwater Banking Index
(SAGBI) and Land IQ ratings that prioritized the site for on-farm recharge.
Mr. Thomas was willing to apply higher rates as one of the initial on-farm
recharge pilot sites in the San Joaquin Valley because the almond trees were
very old and the risk was lower as he planned to remove the almond trees in
the near future. Yields were already low as a result of crop age.
This farm was the subject of an in-depth study, On-Farm Flood Capture and
Recharge at an Organic Almond Orchard, Recharge Rates and Soil Profile
Responses by Phil Bachand & Associates, Davis, California, and Tetra Tech,
Rancho Cordova, California (April 2017). The information in this case study
is largely based on the Bachand/Tetra Tech report, which focuses on salinity,
soil moisture, and other aspects of the effects of on-farm recharge on tree
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