Pistachio Cultivation near Chowchilla, California, in the Central Valley

uniform rows of cropland under a gray sky, stretching as far as the eye can see, with scattered roads and buildings

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This aerial view of Chowchilla, CA shows pistachios in the foreground. California's Central Valley is almost entirely filled with intensive monocultures like shown here, with little wild land remaining. The pictured farm, Forever Grateful Ranch, is a leader in soil conservation practices, using compost instead of chemical fertilizers, and also using cover crops. Unfortunately, the most commonly-used cover crop with pistachios is soft brome (Bromus hordeaceus), itself an invasive species. These dilemmas are typical of the multifaceted environmental impacts of intensive agriculture and illustrate the need for a paradigm shift.

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© US Department of Agriculture

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