Researchers are experimenting with a way for farmers to utilize their rice fields during the non-growing season as a boon for the salmon population.
The idea is to flood the fields using – well, borrowing – drain water from the Colusa Basin as it flows into the valley and out to the Sacramento River while the fields are fallow.
The study is the focus of the Nigiri Project at Knaggs Ranch, in the northern reaches of the Yolo Bypass between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River. The Bypass serves as an incubator for young salmon while they feed and bulk up before ultimately being flushed down the Delta.
“Traditionally we think of fish in the river and the river in its banks. That’s a failure of our imagination,” said Jacob Katz of CalTrout, who spoke to visitors at a farm tour last week.