COLUMN: Technology and water use efficiency for agriculture

Barbie Espinol

Shawn Novack writes that more than the last two a long time county farmers have been using new systems and methodologies for efficient h2o use.

This Column was contributed by Shawn Novack, water conservation application manager with the Water Assets Association San Benito County. The thoughts expressed do not automatically represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all local community customers to share their tips and views. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the major suitable corner of our dwelling webpage and agreeing to abide by our Terms of Use, you can publish counter thoughts or share your insights on present-day concerns.


A major problem facing the foreseeable future of agricultural creation is the availability of h2o. We are viewing the impacts of local climate alter with far more severe weather gatherings like droughts and floods and shifts in plant increasing zones. Domestically, we have been in the grips of a three-calendar year drought. Our allocations from the Central Valley Task is zero for both equally agriculture and the community municipalities this calendar year.  This usually means we have turned to our groundwater provide, which is a finite useful resource.

Simply because of these abnormally dry problems, the regional drinking water businesses enacted Phase II of the Drinking water Scarcity Contingency System in May possibly. These are mandatory drinking water conservation measures. Most limits are for exterior water use. To perspective the measures, go to:

Agriculture is also seeking to adapt to these difficulties by employing impressive technologies and methodologies. These two fields are termed precision agriculture and precision agronomics. More than the past two a long time San Benito County growers have been using new systems and methodologies to be extra economical with h2o use, raise yields and depart significantly less of an effects on the fields of local farms.

Precision agriculture is the use of new systems to boost crop yields and revenue although reducing the levels of traditional items needed to increase crops (water, fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides). Farmers implementing precision agriculture are working with fewer to expand much more.  The principal ingredient of this tactic is the use of details technological innovation and a vast array of products these types of as World wide Positioning Method (GPS) guidance, sensors, robotics, drones, satellites, autonomous vehicles, variable price technological innovation, GPS-based mostly soil sampling, automatic components, telematics and program.

Precision agriculture commenced with the introduction of GPS steerage for tractors in the 1990s, and the adoption of this technological know-how is now so popular globally that it is most likely the most made use of instance of precision agriculture these days.

GPS units on tractors enable farmers to plant crops in much more successful patterns, preserving time and gas. Fields can be leveled by lasers, which usually means water can be used additional efficiently and with significantly less farm drinking water running off into regional streams and rivers. The final result can be a huge benefit for farmers and retains fantastic probable for making agriculture much more sustainable and escalating foods availability.

Precision agronomics is a different important phrase linked to agriculture. It is the combining of methodology with technology that is making a alter in farming. Agronomy is a science and a exercise that seems to be at agriculture from an integrated, holistic point of view. In agronomy, it is essential to understand the attributes of the soil and how the soil interacts with the increasing crop what vitamins the crop demands and when and how to use these nutrients the methods that crops increase and create how weather and other environmental variables impact the crop at all levels and how best to control weeds, insects, fungi, and other crop pests.

Yet another massive thing to consider in agronomy is how to develop crops effectively and profitably when conserving natural means and defending the surroundings.

Neighborhood use of precision agriculture and agronomics contain GPS guided tractors and tools, moisture sensors and laser-leveled fields. There area also new solutions that make on previous patterns to be extra water productive.

You may possibly have found yellow pipes in agricultural fields all around the county. Joe Tonascia, a local grower and a Director on the San Benito County Water District board executed the use of these irrigation pipes on his farm. The yellow PVC pipes are made to be high-effects, corrosion-resistant previously mentioned-ground portable irrigation piping units, the laterals and couplings are impervious to sunlight, electrolysis, chemicals and fertilizers. The structure makes it possible for for simple use in agricultural irrigation. The couplings that hook the pipes alongside one another make a stable seal with very little to no leaks. These pipes when in comparison to the regular aluminum pipes are significantly more drinking water effective. The yellow pipes have immediate pressurization at startup, which takes minutes (vs. several hours for aluminum devices). They also have a distribution uniformity of 84% vs. about 70% for similar aluminum methods as noted by the Nationwide Resource Conservation Provider, a division of the U.S. Department Agriculture.

Sprinkler heads identified as “wind fighter” spray nozzles are also being utilised. These sprinkler heads shield the stream of h2o leaving the sprinkler nozzle from the wind. This allows drinking water to keep on focus on fairly than blowing on roadways or unplanted spots.

The sprinklers on their own rotate and regularly provide better uniformity than conventional sprinklers. The sprinklers type a limited wind-penetrating stream that is systematically broken up by a diffuser, filling in the h2o pattern. The sweeping motion of the nozzles gently distributes water droplets to the ground and prevents soil compaction.

A different community grower, Stan Pura of Mission Ranches, has also enacted new systems and methodologies on his farmland. On a excursion to one particular of his agricultural fields he described some of the farming solutions he’s incorporated in comparison to earlier methods.

He spelled out how greater planting beds are much more appealing to help keep soil humidity and how he utilizes minimal tillage. In the past, fields would be disked after harvest at a a great deal deeper level. Farming with minimum amount tillage can improve soil framework, cut down weeds, enable before planting dates and boost yields.

He also went on to demonstrate the relevance of seeds. Good quality seeds raise yields, minimize the need to have for fertilizer and use less water.

Precision agriculture technologies continue on to produce, and additional and far more farms are adopting accessible technological innovation and procedures. Like any other market, advocates are essential to drive higher adoption and therefore bigger efficiency.

As Mike Wade, Govt Director of the California Farm Drinking water Coalition mentioned in the latest interview:

“California farms create above fifty percent of the country’s fruits, nuts, and veggies. California meals aren’t just in the generate aisle, but also in the completely ready-created foodstuff and components we eat each individual single working day. That just cannot materialize without having drinking water and we simply cannot simply go California manufacturing to other states. A protected, cost-effective, domestic food items provide is a nationwide protection concern, just like energy. The federal government have to make it a precedence.”

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