At this point in time, water has greater value to growers than any other time in history. Throughout California, groundwater and water storage are closely monitored and have a high dollar value on them. We are limited on how much water we can pull out of the ground and have limited storage throughout California, making it crucial to be intentional while irrigating. Since the Green Revolution in the 1950s, numerous tools and devices have helped growers monitor the amount of water they are using to help conserve as much water as possible.
Yes, over 70 years is how long experts of the irrigation industry have been trying to refine how we monitor and control irrigation. Here at IDC, we implement a variety of tools and devices that will help growers achieve their highest potential, all while conserving the most crucial resource of all, “Water.”
Although water conservation seems to be the main reason the industry has put so much work into monitoring and control, it also serves other beneficial purposes to the grower. One can picture the scenario of strawberries being grown in the summertime here on the Central Coast of California. It is a hotter day than usual; instead of wondering if your soil is still saturated, you can know that the soil is or isn’t saturated. The grower can then turn on the water to prevent wilting of tissue or any other damage to the fruit. This isn’t just useful for the summertime.
On the occasional nights here on the Coast, where temperatures can drop below 32 Fahrenheit or 0 Celsius, an alert can be sent to the grower to turn on the water to prevent freeze. When the grower decides to implement monitoring in their field, they give themselves a better opportunity for a higher yield and better conservation of resources. Yes, the grower is conserving more than water in this scenario. Whenever irrigation is occurring, some nutrients are being applied as well, so when the proper monitoring device is in the field, the grower can refine their usage of nutrients and water.
Monitoring has changed the way Agriculture irrigates. We are more aware of our usage and have been able to make a significant impact on conservation. However, the real game-changer is the Control aspect. Picture that same scenario I just mentioned of the summertime Strawberries here on the Central Coast. Now, you have just read the high-temperature alert you had sent to your phone, laptop, or tablet. You are in a production meeting and need to turn on the water ASAP
With the control ability, you can do just that. This gives you the ability not only to see what is going on in the field, but you are also now able to do something about it. Remember, this is just one example of how Monitoring and Control are applied in the field. This is great for convenience for you as the grower. Also, consider the annual cost of labor you will save with this type of capability. From monitoring fertilizer levels in tanks to controlling your booster pump, whether you are growing Strawberries on the Coast or in Almonds in the Central Valley of California, Monitoring and Control can positively impact your operation.
Just talking about these types of technologies with these capabilities makes the grower automatically think about the price tag. We offer many options from different brands/companies at IDC to fit growers’ needs and budgets. As I mentioned before, these devices were invented to help conserve water and resources. Federal and State programs provide funding for growers that qualify that want to implement monitoring/control devices.
For example, the Natural Resource of Conservation Services (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers to fund growers that wish to implement Monitoring or Control in their field and any other type of water and energy conservation methods. Other funding programs like the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) offer the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). Some programs grant projects up to $250,000. The grower must provide some qualifications and documentation to be awarded any funding from these programs.
We have come so far with technology and Agriculture. The impact that these innovations have had on the industry has advanced us tremendously. No matter what commodity the grower is farming, their lively hood is planted in that ground. We must keep implementing innovation to help us better understand how to grow successful crops while conserving water and resources.
If you are interested in more information about any of these types of Monitoring or Control Devices or more information about the funding, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our many IDC locations, and one of our professionals will provide guidance.