California Utility Company Can Help Farmers Save Water During Drought

orchard drip irrigationCalifornia Utility company, PG&E, sees a big opportunity to help farmers reduce their water use and electricity use, at the same time. By doing so, it can save precious water, help farmers save money, and help the power company itself reduce overall electricity demand – which means avoiding having to build costly new power plants.

PG&E has a few tools at its disposal, the biggest being financial incentives to help farmers switch to water-saving technologies such as drip irrigation. Continue reading

Farmer Saves Big with Subsurface Drip Irrigation on Potatoes

Drip Irrigation on PotatoesA Florida-based potato farmer who recently won an award for his sustainable irrigation methods firmly believes all farmers should adopt subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) for the good of the planet.

Riverdale Potato Farms vice president and third generation family member Bryan Jones, last month received one of the state’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Awards for the subsurface drip irrigation system he developed with his father.

“The results are remarkable.” Continue reading

Cutting-Edge Farmer Uses Drip Irrigation and Other Techniques to Maximize Water Efficiency

Don Cameron, a member of California’s State Board of Food and Agriculture and general manager of Terranova Ranch, is on the cutting edge of irrigation. His wine grape vineyards stretch for 1,300 acres, so maximizing water is a top priority. Cameron has used drip irrigation on these vineyards since 1982, a time when drip was still uncommon.

Making the switch to micro-irrigation has saved Terranova Ranch 15-20 percent on water costs. When Cameron took over as general manager, he recalls, “I was told we couldn’t grow tomatoes. I was told the ground was too light.” Processing tomatoes now occupy 2,300 acres at Terranova, due in large part to Cameron’s implementation of drip systems. He contends, “We eliminate evaporation from the soil surface and provide uniform distribution of water and reduce fertilizer usage along with producing a 28 percent higher yield. We no longer have excess water accumulation at the end of fields as we did when we furrow irrigated.”

But drip irrigation isn’t the only practice that makes Cameron a pioneer in water use efficiency. Continue reading

10 Ways Farmers are Saving Water

California DroughtAs California faces a historic drought, many farmers are relying on groundwater reserves to carry them through the dry season. Pumping groundwater is currently unregulated in California (that could soon change), and drawing on reserves now could cause shortages in the future. Sustainability-minded farmers are looking ahead and using an arsenal of ways to save water. Here are just a few: Continue reading

Free Agricultural Workshop to Highlight Drip Irrigation on Onions & Watermelons

South Texas farmers, crop consultants, technicians and anybody involved in crop irrigation are invited to a workshop to help brainstorm ideas on how to generate incentives for water conservation, according to experts at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.

The free program, Rio Grande Valley Agricultural Conservation Workshop, will be held from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday at the center, located at 2415 E. U.S. Highway 83 in Weslaco.

Among things discussed will be a test plot of drip irrigation on onions and watermelons in which water use was cut in half and yields were double. According to Dr. Juan Anciso, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service fruit and vegetable specialist at the Weslaco center, “using a [drip irrigation] system can pay off for growers.” Continue reading

The Pros and Cons of Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip Tape IrrigationDrip Irrigation has typically been used in high-value fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. Recently, it has become popular in field crop applications, including corn/soybean rotations and alfalfa, cotton, and processing tomatoes. USDA’s recent Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey reported 3.76 million acres in the U.S. are under drip. This acreage is expected to be significantly higher in the 2013 report, which will be released this fall.

Drip is gaining in popularity because the systems are flexible and can accommodate diverse cropping and application demands. Continue reading

Subsurface Drip Irrigation Isn’t Rocket Science – But It Requires Management

subsurface drip irrigationWith drought gripping much of the Great Plains and western states, and with groundwater reserves declining and water regulations increasing, growers and their CCAs are finding ways to get more crop per drop with precision irrigation.

Starting in 1993, CCA Bill Cox, agricultural consultant at CoxCo Ag Services in Las Cruces, NM, has helped his clients convert thousands of acres of center-pivot irrigation to the more water-efficient subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems, in which buried drip lines below the soil surface deliver water and nutrients directly to the plant’s root zone with minimal losses to surface evaporation or deep percolation.

With SDI, Cox’s growers are able to sharply reduce waste compared with other irrigation systems like furrow and center-pivot irrigation. That enables his growers to put more water to use for crop production, he says. But don’t confuse water use efficiency with water conservation, Cox stresses. The goal isn’t necessarily to use less water, but to get more production with the water that you have. Continue reading

K-State to Celebrate 25 Years of Subsurface Drip Irrigation Research with Field Day

Through drought and wind, hail and rain, for 25 years Kansas State University researchers have studied subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) technology for field crop production. To mark the anniversary, K-State’s Northwest Research-Extension Center at Colby will host a special anniversary SDI Technology Field Day on Wednesday, August 6 at 105 Experiment Farm Road in Colby.

“This is where growers can come to have their questions answered,” said Freddie Lamm, research irrigation engineer with K-State Research and Extension. “We’ve built in plenty of opportunities for this to be an interactive day.” Continue reading