COLUMN: Technology and water use efficiency for agriculture

ByThomas L. Elston

Jul 4, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Shawn Novack writes that in excess of the very last two a long time county farmers have been employing new technologies and methodologies for productive h2o use.

This Column was contributed by Shawn Novack, h2o conservation plan manager with the Drinking water Methods Affiliation San Benito County. The views expressed do not automatically represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invitations all neighborhood users to share their tips and thoughts. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the best suitable corner of our property site and agreeing to adhere to our Terms of Use, you can publish counter thoughts or share your insights on latest concerns.


A important concern struggling with the long run of agricultural creation is the availability of water. We are seeing the impacts of climate alter with additional intense climate functions like droughts and floods and shifts in plant expanding zones. Locally, we have been in the grips of a a few-year drought. Our allocations from the Central Valley Task is zero for both of those agriculture and the community municipalities this year.  This suggests we have turned to our groundwater provide, which is a finite resource.

Due to the fact of these abnormally dry conditions, the local h2o organizations enacted Stage II of the Drinking water Scarcity Contingency Prepare in Could. These are necessary water conservation measures. Most constraints are for outdoors h2o use. To see the steps, go to:

Agriculture is also seeking to adapt to these problems by utilizing impressive engineering and methodologies. These two fields are termed precision agriculture and precision agronomics. More than the previous two decades San Benito County growers have been working with new technologies and methodologies to be extra effective with water use, raise yields and depart significantly less of an affect on the fields of neighborhood farms.

Precision agriculture is the use of new technologies to maximize crop yields and earnings whilst lowering the concentrations of classic things essential to increase crops (h2o, fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides). Farmers implementing precision agriculture are employing less to grow much more.  The key part of this tactic is the use of information technological know-how and a extensive selection of objects these types of as International Positioning Program (GPS) steering, sensors, robotics, drones, satellites, autonomous cars, variable charge engineering, GPS-dependent soil sampling, automatic components, telematics and computer software.

Precision agriculture commenced with the introduction of GPS assistance for tractors in the 1990s, and the adoption of this technologies is now so common globally that it is almost certainly the most made use of case in point of precision agriculture right now.

GPS equipment on tractors permit farmers to plant crops in far more efficient styles, conserving time and gas. Fields can be leveled by lasers, which indicates h2o can be applied far more competently and with fewer farm water managing off into neighborhood streams and rivers. The consequence can be a major profit for farmers and holds wonderful possible for producing agriculture much more sustainable and expanding food items availability.

Precision agronomics is a further critical expression similar to agriculture. It is the combining of methodology with technologies that is generating a improve in farming. Agronomy is a science and a apply that seems at agriculture from an built-in, holistic perspective. In agronomy, it’s vital to fully grasp the attributes of the soil and how the soil interacts with the escalating crop what vitamins and minerals the crop requirements and when and how to utilize these nutrients the means that crops develop and acquire how local climate and other environmental elements have an affect on the crop at all levels and how greatest to manage weeds, insects, fungi, and other crop pests.

A further large consideration in agronomy is how to grow crops proficiently and profitably while conserving all-natural assets and guarding the environment.

Area use of precision agriculture and agronomics incorporate GPS guided tractors and machines, humidity sensors and laser-leveled fields. There location also new goods that develop on previous patterns to be much more h2o successful.

You may well have noticed yellow pipes in agricultural fields around the county. Joe Tonascia, a area grower and a Director on the San Benito County Drinking water District board carried out the use of these irrigation pipes on his farm. The yellow PVC pipes are made to be higher-impression, corrosion-resistant over-floor moveable irrigation piping techniques, the laterals and couplings are impervious to daylight, electrolysis, chemical substances and fertilizers. The style and design will allow for straightforward use in agricultural irrigation. The couplings that hook the pipes together make a sound seal with very little to no leaks. These pipes when compared to the standard aluminum pipes are significantly far more h2o successful. The yellow pipes have prompt pressurization at startup, which takes minutes (vs. hours for aluminum programs). They also have a distribution uniformity of 84% vs. about 70% for comparable aluminum devices as documented by the Nationwide Resource Conservation Services, a division of the U.S. Section Agriculture.

Sprinkler heads named “wind fighter” spray nozzles are also staying utilized. These sprinkler heads protect the stream of water leaving the sprinkler nozzle from the wind. This allows drinking water to keep on concentrate on fairly than blowing on roads or unplanted places.

The sprinklers themselves rotate and continuously supply bigger uniformity than regular sprinklers. The sprinklers variety a tight wind-penetrating stream that is systematically broken up by a diffuser, filling in the h2o pattern. The sweeping action of the nozzles gently distributes h2o droplets to the floor and prevents soil compaction.

Another local grower, Stan Pura of Mission Ranches, has also enacted new technologies and methodologies on his farmland. On a journey to 1 of his agricultural fields he described some of the farming solutions he’s included as opposed to past tactics.

He stated how larger sized planting beds are far more appealing to support retain soil humidity and how he makes use of minimum tillage. In the previous, fields would be disked right after harvest at a substantially deeper degree. Farming with bare minimum tillage can enhance soil structure, decrease weeds, enable before planting dates and maximize yields.

He also went on to reveal the importance of seeds. Top quality seeds boost yields, lessen the will need for fertilizer and use significantly less h2o.

Precision agriculture technologies continue to produce, and much more and much more farms are adopting available technology and tactics. Like any other field, advocates are essential to push bigger adoption and for this reason larger performance.

As Mike Wade, Government Director of the California Farm Drinking water Coalition stated in new interview:

“California farms create more than fifty percent of the country’s fruits, nuts, and veggies. California food items are not just in the deliver aisle, but also in the completely ready-made meals and substances we consume each and every solitary working day. That simply cannot materialize without the need of h2o and we can not basically go California production to other states. A risk-free, affordable, domestic foodstuff source is a national security problem, just like vitality. The govt must make it a priority.”


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