Water Innovation in the California Dairy Industry

Dec 15, 2016 9:30 AM ET

Our agricultural suppliers, particularly those in California, are acutely aware of the importance of sound water management and innovating in the face of water scarcity. When it comes to growing feed for his cows, dairy farmer Mike De Jager was an early adopter of technology that reduces water consumption. Six years ago, De Jager began experimenting with drip irrigation on his alfalfa and corn, crops that are traditionally watered using furrow or flood irrigation.

The switch to drip irrigation has yielded benefits for both De Jager and the environment. Since implementing drip irrigation on his crops, De Jager has seen a 25% reduction in water use with a 20%-25% increase in crop yield. The return on investment couldn’t have come at a better time for De Jager, who is expected to receive a 0% water allocation from his local irrigation district due to California’s exceptional four-year drought.

De Jager also utilizes conservation tillage, a method of low-impact farming that retains protective amounts of crop residue on the soil surface. The remaining crop residue protects the soil from erosion and improves soil health. As Nestlé identifies priority dairy suppliers to engage in discussions about water-saving production methods, we will look to early adopters like De Jager to serve as leading examples.

Read more stories from the 2015 Creating Shared Value Report