Tag: agalert

California Farmers Say Irrigation Technology & Efficiency is the Future for Agriculture

Irrigation supply stores throughout California report brisk sales, and irrigation experts say extreme drought has prompted a closer look at emerging technology to help stretch dwindling water supplies.

California farmers invested more than $3 billion in improved irrigation technology between 2003 and 2013, according to Danny Merkley, California Farm Bureau Federation water resources director.

“Already, farmers have upgraded irrigation systems on more than 2.6 million acres statewide,” Merkley said. Many farmers and ranchers see technology as a way to accelerate water supply management capability and better integrate a variety of operations, while noting that a combination of efficiency improvements and investment in new water storage and recycling will be needed to assure future supplies.

“I’ve worked in two-dozen countries consulting on various aspects of applied irrigation technology, and find California farmers are doing an outstanding job of adopting technology for better water management,” said Charles Burt, chairman of the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

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Central Valley Farmers Cope with Water Supply Cut, Convert to Drip Irrigation

Cutbacks on water delivery from the federal Central Valley Project has left farmers, like Ted Sheeley, looking for ways to cut their water use.  Sheeley, who farms in the Huron area, western Kings County, and eastern Fresno County, has traditionally used flood and sprinkler irrigation, but with the water cutbacks, it is difficult to fulfill his processing tomato and cotton contracts.  Sheeley has begun converting his flood and sprinkler irrigated fields to drip irrigation to optimize his water use and plans to be completely converted within 3 to 4 years.

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Salinas Valley Farmers Solve Water Issues with Drip Irrigation and Conservation

Salinas Drip IrrigationCharged with the issue of seawater intrusion, the Salinas Valley in California has done several things to all but eliminate the issue. First, two reservoirs were constructed to recharge the underground aquifer. Then, a wastewater treatment plant was built to enable the use of recycled water for irrigation. And recently, a rubber dam was installed to divert surface water for irrigation. Along with these attempts to improve the region’s water supply, Salinas Valley farmers have turned to drip irrigation and conservation to help solve their water issues.

In a recent article in AgAlert, reporter Bob Johnson interviewed Salinas Valley farmers to see how they have reduced seawater intrusion. Turns out that the region’s conversion to drip irrigation and focus on conservation has a lot to do with it. Bob writes, “Twenty years ago, less than 3 percent of Salinas Valley vegetable acreage was under drip irrigation…(but) the water agency’s most recent survey shows that by 2012, drip irrigation was being used on nearly 60 percent of the vegetable acreage.” Bob goes on to write that between drip irrigation, water supply projects, and other conservation techniques, such as soil moisture sensors and flow meters, the Salinas Valley has even allowed the underground water table to rise.

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