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.”

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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.

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.”