Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environment, Economics and Politics

Reader 1

Colin Robins

Reader 2

Nancy Neiman

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© 2020 Sophie M Baker


California’s agricultural sector is the biggest water consumer in the state and faces intense pressure to reduce its overall water usage. Industrialized monoculture systems dominate the industry and often disregard long-term environmental and economic externalities for short-term profit maximization. To maintain longstanding food security and economic stability as well as protect the state’s water supply, it is critical that these systems transition to more sustainable and resilient production mechanisms. As an alternative to monoculture, intercropping affords greater potential to conserve water, protect soil quality, and increase crop yields, among other metrics of sustainability. However, there has been much controversy over intercropping’s true potential to maintain the high crop yields of current commercial agriculture and whether it can effectively decrease water consumption in semi-arid and arid climates. Through meta-analysis and literature review of research completed in similar environments, this paper determines that if properly implemented, the methodologies of intercropping can be effective for long-term economic success in the Central Valley, while simultaneously increasing water conservation and protecting California’s valuable resources. To encourage the transition to these systems, potential policies and strategies are provided as mechanisms to stimulate positive growth towards a sustainable future.