In the past 6 months, California has experienced a severe drought. One so severe it is looking to surpass any precedent levels.  As of April 8th, not one part of California was not in a drought. Most people don’t really imagine our country having a drought. They see it as something old such as the Dust Bowl in the early 1900’s or something that only countries in the Middle East have to deal with, yet there is one right in our own backyard.

This drought threatens the nation’s agriculture industry greatly. California is the largest agricultural state. It is a major exporter of fruit, such as peaches and oranges, but also other goods, such as spinach, grapes, and lemons. Now, it might seem pretty straight forward. This drought will just affect US agriculture production, so we can’t have our fruit and vegetables anymore. However, this drought does so much more. The US is the top exporting nation when it comes to agriculture. Take California, a major contributor towards US exports away from the equation and the world will be affected as a whole. Nations that rely on the US for food will not be able to get it. This could lead to famines and raised prices in agricultural goods. Already, the US has seen a rise in prices when it comes to produce and these prices will continue to rise until this drought is stopped.  There is no end in sight though. No natural end in sight that is.

Even though California is facing this drought and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon, innovations and advancements in technology are becoming the light at the end of a dark tunnel. Technology can help solve for not only California’s drought, but droughts all over the world. It is ironic that California, home of the technologically rich Silicon Valley, hasn’t been able to come up with a solution to this drought. It is because companies and investors want an immediate return. They don’t want to wait 10 years for the time and effort to pay off even if it helps the country, their state, and the environment.

Nevertheless, other companies have stepped up. One company in particular is called Tal-Ya. Tal-Ya is an Israeli company that aims to solve drought problems and help agriculture. Israel is notorious for its action in helping the environment. Over 2/3 of the country is covered by desert. This has led to not only programs that plant trees to help enrich the soil, but also the Plastic Tray made by Tal-Ya. Its name is pretty self-explanatory. It is a small, square, plastic device that has a hole in the middle of it. A tree is planted in the hole of the tray. The tray funnels water from the tree’s direct surroundings, due to its inward slope. This helps water get directly to the tree’s roots, allowing for not only better, but quicker growth. Along with this, the Plastic Tray traps evaporating water from the soil it covers. This too allows the water to stay in the tree’s surroundings so it can get water more directly. Lastly, the inward slope directs sunlight directly onto the tree. The Plastic Tray has proved extremely beneficial when it comes to helping the growth of plants. Implementing this in California can help deal with the lack of water and allow for farms to continue to grow crops and flourish, rather than die out.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited California. There, he agreed to help California with its drought situation. This could lead to the implementation of Plastic Trays in California. Another example of technology’s use to solve for droughts is desalination. Desalination is the process of taking ocean seawater and converting it into usable fresh water. While the process of desalination is still being researched and has not been perfected, it too has proved to be a viable innovation when it comes to solving for drought problems and Israel has expertise here as well.

Nothing has been able to help so far. Limiting water supply, taking shorter showers, and not watering lawns are all tactics states and countries use to combat droughts, yet it hasn’t worked for California. Even with a few weeks of rainfall, the state continues to face this drought. Both of these innovations can prove to be extremely beneficial when it comes to solving California’s drought problems. The next step is to implement them and wait. Overcoming this drought will not be an overnight job. It will take time and quicker we start, the better.

[Image Attribute: Steve Weatherford via Compfight cc]