A recent study by Science (Vol. 368) concludes that the western united states are amid a megadrought of epic proportions, the worst in 1200 years, and Utah is squarely in the center of the area of study. A combination of tree ring analysis and computer modeling determined that approximately 47% of the drought conditions are human-caused.
For conventional farmers, water, or lack thereof, in any given year can make or break the farm. Regenerative farmers have sought out innovative techniques to circumvent the fickle nature of dwindling water access. In the case of one local farm, Kristin’s Farm Stand, a 600-acre regenerative farm just outside of Snowville, pivoting towards greenhouse protected produce growing is one of many methods implemented. Greenhouses help create a uniform growing environment with ideal humidity levels. They prevent excess water loss due to temperature swings, wind, direct solar radiation, and the corresponding evaporation.
Additionally, growing soil-grown produce inside greenhouses allows for targeted water application through a drip system applied directly to the source where it’s needed the most, the roots of the plant, without losing water to broad pivot application.
These methods combined allow Utah’s Kristin’s Farm Stand to harvest greenhouse-grown produce using approximately 90% less water than growing the same volume of produce conventionally.
Kristin’s Farm Stand also utilizes techniques to maintain carbon neutrality, and soon to be carbon-capturing on the farm. Planting cover crops on all bare soil of the farm encourages the farm soil microbiome health and improves the volume of topsoil. This keeps more environmental water in the soil by reducing runoff and will also eventually capture more carbon than is produced by the cattle that graze on it.
“By ‘growing’ soil that can pull excess carbon out of the environment and sequester it back in the earth, along with only utilizing the bare minimum of water we need to grow our produce, we’re doing our small part to help our local Utah community during this megadrought,” stated Kristin Varela, founder of Kristin’s Farm Stand. Varela continues, “For us, a regenerative farm is one that regenerates both our farm soil and our local economy, along with improving the health and vitality of the customers that eat our foods, and the wellbeing of our employees. We should all be thinking of ways that we can stack innovative ideas together to combat this issue of global proportions.”