Technology Advances Agriculture

Mike Wade: Technology Advances Agriculture

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

As it improves, technology advances agriculture; growers find ways to incorporate new advances. Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, said, “Agriculture has always adopted new available technology once it becomes affordable. Farmers are willing adopters to become more efficient, whether it’s drip irrigation, soil management or reducing evapotranspiration.”

Wade said farmers are using drones on their farms to further advance their agricultural efficiency. “Drone technology isn’t something magical,” he said, “it’s simply a way to fly sensors over a field to gauge water use, evapotranspiration, plant stress, disease pressure and any number of different sensors a drone can carry to gather information for farmers to make better crop production decisions.”

Wade said, “California agriculture leads the world in food production and food quality. We have a direct partnership with consumers around the world. It’s important for agriculture to tell its story, for farmers to talk about the great improvements made with the new technology they adopt and to enhance the relationship we have with the consumers who buy our food.”

_________________

The California Farm Water Coalition was formed in 1989 in the midst of a six-year drought. CFWC was formed to increase public awareness of agriculture’s efficient use of water and promote the industry’s environmental sensitivity regarding water.

2016-05-31T19:27:02-07:00December 7th, 2015|

Subsurface Drip Efficiency

Subsurface Drip Efficiency in Pomegranates

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Subsurface drip irrigation, a more efficient form of water delivery, is growing in popularity and utilized on a widening range of crops. Claude James Phene, a research consultant for the UC Cooperative Extension, said subsurface drip efficiency is evident with both water and nitrogen in pomegranates.Pomegranate tree

Using a lysimeter, a big box on a calibrated truck scale that measures evapotranspiration, Phene can calculate the precise water requirement for pomegranates according to the soil moisture feedback indicated by the machine. Based on these calculations, Phene can make clear water recommendations to growers so they can accommodate the needs of their plants without exceeding them.

Because it is buried and targeted, subsurface drip irrigation also helps control weeds and reduce animal and traffic disturbances.

This six-year study has also demonstrated these drip lines prevent leaching—the loss of nutrients in the soil—that occurs with other types of irrigation systems. Phene explained, “The lysimeters are equipped with a drop-tube at the bottom so we can measure the nitrogen in any output to determine how much leaching occurs and to make recommendations on fertilizer.”

2016-05-31T19:27:04-07:00November 4th, 2015|

WADE: LET THE WATER FLOW!

Let The Water Flow:

Mike Wade Urges Water Board To Let Reclamation Pay Back Borrowed Water

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, discussed with California Ag Today, his article for the Coalition’s Blog, entitled, “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion.”

“A number of San Joaquin Valley farmers have been working the last couple of years to set aside emergency water supplies through conservation and water purchases on the open market,” began Wade. “That water is set aside in the San Luis Reservoir and currently being borrowed, if you will, by the Bureau of Reclamation to help meet their obligations and ultimately the temperature management plan for winter run Chinook salmon.”

Wade said the Bureau’s water obligations also include provisions for summer agriculture south of the Delta, as well as refuge management for numerous listed terrestrial species like the Giant Garter Snake.

Wade estimates the loaned water is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Lending farmers include those who own land on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley rice farmers who fallowed land this year to make supplies available for transfers and Friant-area farmers seeking to augment a zero water allocation for the second year in a row.

“We believe the Bureau has an obligation to pay that water back this fall, and we’re urging the State Water Resources Control Board to let that payback happen.” In his article, Wade reported that Reclamation would pay back the water from supplies stored in Lake Shasta as soon as temperature goals for winter run Chinook salmon were met.

Regarding accountability, Wade said, “I believe the Bureau intends to pay it back, but we want the public to understand what’s happening. We want transparency so we can follow this obligation and make sure this fall, when water becomes available, the Bureau follows through to pay it back. People don’t forget.”

Built and operated jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the State of California, the San Luis Reservoir is at 44% capacity today, according to the California Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center, but the supply is already divided and allocated. Wade explained, “The water that is currently in San Luis Reservoir under the Bureau of Reclamation’s control is almost exclusively owned by growers who have conserved it or purchased it on the open market. The remainder belongs to the State Water Project and its users. So, there is little or no federally-owned water in San Luis at this time.”

Wade said, “There are a number of factors that contribute to the 4.5 – 4.9 billion dollar projected cost for San Joaquin Valley farmers. First is the actual value of the water that farmers have already set aside. Second is the monetary obligations farmers have contracted to pay Sacramento Valley rice growers for transferred water. The third component is the actual value of potential crop and orchard losses if that water isn’t paid back and farmers lose out on their ability to keep their farms going.”

Wade urged the State Water Resources Control Board, “to facilitate this complex and unprecedented collaboration” and allow Reclamation to release compensatory water as soon as possible.

Let the water flow!

 

Sources: Interview with Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion,” by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; Bureau of Reclamation; California Department of Water Resources

Featured Image: San Luis Reservoir-Empty, California Farm Water Coalition

2016-05-31T19:28:12-07:00June 26th, 2015|
Go to Top