Chilefarms, Nogales, Chile
January 11, 2015
A big story is brewing on this farm and in the entire central valley in central Chile. Water, the resource once thought to be limitless here, is reaching its capacity to supply farms and homes alike. Farms like Chilefarms are increasing their capacity to store and conserve water. Ricardo Ceriani and Susaan Straus, the farm owners, have been voicing their concerns to me as I visit. More about this subject to come. In the meantime, this post shows a typical Sunday, a day of water is supplied to valley farms.
Water is delivered to the orange trees, walnut trees, alfalfa, melon and corn fields from different sources on different days of the week.
The melons, corn, and alfalfa are watered once a week Sunday into Monday when water flows into the farm's canal from the Aconcagua River. Don Pedro is a regular Chilean Pythagoras when it comes to devising and managing a system of channels criss-crossing the fields. Before he opens the gate into the fields, he prepares dams to guide water where he wants it to travel.
He and Juan Vila open and close hand dug channels along the fields that irrigate one row of crops at a time. As each row is saturated, he or Juan Vila move the barrier along the side of the fields to admit water into the next row.
Elsewhere on the farm, water is used to irrigate the orange and walnut trees on a regular schedule during the week. Farms of varying sizes growing fruit and produce line the roads through this valley. All of them use water. More and more of them have begun drilling wells. Concern is mounting about the capacity of the aquifer.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.