Tag: tomatoes

Campbell’s Turns to Drip Irrigation to Grow More Tomatoes with Less Water

Water prices, water rights, drip irrigation, and last year’s dry winter are common topics of conversation for California growers. All have a common thread – the days of cheap limitless water supplies in California are fast approaching their end, and in districts further south in the Central Valley, are already here.

The folks at Campbell Soup know this. Which is why the company set goals last year to reduce water and fertilizer use by 20 percent per pound of tomatoes by 2020. This is on top of a 50 percent water reduction goal for its manufacturing plants.

One especially promising strategy is replacing sprinklers or furrow irrigation with drip irrigation. Though it costs about $1,000 per acre to install the drip system underground, the benefits are obvious. In addition to cutting water use by roughly 10 percent, it saves on fertilizer and helps farmers boost their tomato yields.

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Drip Irrigation on Processing Tomatoes – Worth Farms, Huron, CA

Chuck Herrin manages Worth Farms in California’s Westlands Water District. Founded by his grandfather, a custom harvester turned farmer, Worth Farms today grows 4,500 acres of drip irrigated crops including 3,500 acres of processing tomatoes.

“Our best-ever yield on conventional sprinkler/gravity acreage was 64 tons/acre in 2004. five years later, we are achieving 50-100% increases in yields with drip, and an overall average of 65 tons/acre operation wide. On top of that, water, labor, fertilizer, and herbicide savings are substantial. We used to apply 36 inches of water per acre to meet a crop ET of about 18 inches. Now, we only apply 24 inches of water, a 33% savings. At the same time, we have cut labor use by half, and fertilizer use by a third. This is significant.”

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