Our local farms and ranches not only produce food, fiber, and fuels, but also steward our natural environment and drives our local economy. Sonoma County supports a $756,508,500 agricultural industry per the 2015 crop report from the Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures. The cool coastal climate, rolling hills, diverse geology, and long growing season allows for a highly productive and diverse agricultural industry.

The RCD’s sensitivity to the many challenges we face with our property is greatly appreciated! The maps and planning tools will prove invaluable to our family and for future generations.

Jack Rasmason

Cattle Rancher

The RCD has been a partner of agriculture since the early 1940s. Beginning from the days following the Dust Bowl, RCDs were established to be the eyes and ears on the ground to support agriculturalists with their most pressing natural resource concerns. These districts were often formed and operated by local farmers and ranchers. Through the decades, the RCD has evolved to serve a diverse array of constituents; however, agriculturalists remain one of the major partners of RCDs across the country. We have technical assistance available to farmers and ranchers in Sonoma County who may be concerned about:

Water Conservation

As in most of California, water is a valuable commodity in Sonoma County. After our recent four-year drought, we saw some of those affects first hand. Sonoma County has three medium priority groundwater basins, which have suffered from persistent groundwater overdraft conditions and some areas that are threatened by salt water intrusion. Managing surface and groundwater is vital to the health of our communities, wildlife and economy. The RCD has programs and services for farmers needing financial or technical assistance with water conservation on their farms or ranches.

Erosion Control

When natural vegetation is cleared or when farmland is ploughed or overgrazed, the exposed topsoil is susceptible to both wind and water erosion. These natural forces then create only larger erosional issues over time if they are not properly addressed. When farms lose topsoil they are essentially losing their most valuable resource. Soil carried off of agricultural operations via rain or irrigation water can also lead to sedimentation of streams, rivers, lakes and coastal areas. If the banks of our rivers and other waterways are lacking vegetation, soil will be actively lost during storm or flood events. Sedimentation causes serious damage to freshwater and marine habitats, which can directly impact the sensitive species these waterways support. The impacts can also trickle down to our local communities who rely on these water sources as well. The RCD has programs and services for farmers and ranchers who want to find solutions or implement projects that help reduce or prevent erosion on their lands.

Nutrient Management

Plant nutrients are essential for crop production. It is essential to apply the proper quantities during the appropriate times of the year to help achieve ideal crop yields. However, the improper application of nutrients, especially nitrogen or phosphorus, can cause water quality problems for wildlife and the communities who depend on these water resources. The RCD has programs and services for farmers needing technical assistance with nutrient management practices on their farms or ranches.