Why It’s Important to Celebrate Ag Day Every Day

Organization focuses on education for California youth 365 days a year RDOWater_AgDay

Author: Judy Culbertson, California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

If you ask students where their food comes from, many will say, “From the grocery store.” Frankly, that concerns me. Far too many people are unaware of the role of California agriculture in their daily lives and what it takes to have food on their dinner tables.

We know that food and fiber doesn’t just arrive at the grocery or clothing store—or magically appear on our dinner tables or in our closets. There’s an entire industry dedicated to providing safe and plentiful food for consumption, as well as a wide range of comfortable, fashionable clothing choices.

We rely on agriculture for the very necessities of life. From beef and pork to cotton and corn, agriculture is working harder than ever to meet the needs of Californians, Americans and others around the world.

This week, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, California Women for Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture host Ag Day 2017 at the state Capitol. It is a day to reflect and be grateful for agriculture. It is a day to share with California legislators and the public the educational programs and materials we provide to students and teachers so they can learn, for example, how each American farmer feeds more than 144 people.

Of course, it’s not just the farmer and rancher who make our food possible. The entire agriculture sector, all the way to the grocery store, comprises a chain that brings food to every citizen—and millions of people abroad.

At the Capitol event, 50 agricultural organizations gather to reinforce the appreciation people have for the role California agriculture plays in our lives. The day includes interactive displays, farm animals, dancing, farm equipment and, of course, plenty of food. Legislators join in and see the passion and commitment the agricultural community has for agricultural education.

Student authors of California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s Imagine this… Story Writing Contest autograph books of the stories they wrote about agriculture, receive recognition on stage during the program, and are honored by their legislators during a ceremony in the Governor’s Council Room.

Students taught by the CFAITC Outstanding Educator of the Year, Lisa Liss of Woodlake Elementary in Sacramento, take a special walk around the Capitol grounds, sponsored by United HealthCare, to promote healthy eating and lifestyles.

Elsewhere in the state, more than a dozen Farm Days take place this month, organized by county Farm Bureaus, high schools and fairs. From Siskiyou to San Benito to Fresno and Los Angeles, thousands of kids will experience agriculture for a day. Yolo County alone will reach 4,000 students this week.

Ag Day at the Capitol is one location, one day. CFAITC focuses on educating California youth 365 days of the year. Our role is not only to reach students and teachers, but also to equip volunteers and other organizations with lesson plans, hands-on activities and other educational resources that enable them to teach accurately and professionally about this critically important part of our lives.

Ag in the Classroom works to expand that first day of experiencing agriculture through projects such as our Taste and Teach program, sponsored by Raley’s supermarkets. Through this program, Raley’s supports 100 Northern California teachers by providing gift cards and a binder of lessons developed by Ag in the Classroom that focus on fruits and vegetables, their nutritional benefits, growing habits and fun facts about them.

As one of the largest procurers of California agricultural products, McDonald’s is investing in agricultural education by organizing field trips to its restaurants and teaching students that the food there comes from the same farms and ranches as the food they buy in a grocery store.

CFAITC could not do what it does without support from California farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations. For example, the California Farm Bureau Federation has supported Ag in the Classroom since its inception in 1986. The California Dairy Council has brought dairy cows to school sites every day of the school year for years, and has been an innovator in nutrition education since 1919. The 48th District Agricultural Association features agriculture and education and an annual farm day in the Los Angeles Basin. For the past 65 years, the California CattleWomen have traveled to schools in rural and urban areas to help children experience agriculture.

Ag in the Classroom supports thousands of teachers every year. We work with hundreds of farmers, ranchers and associations who share their knowledge, time and energy in support of agricultural education.

More than 7 million students are enrolled in California public and private schools. Is it a lofty goal to reach them all? Yes, it is! Can we reach the goal? Yes, together, we can!

Not every child has an opportunity to grow up on a farm, but through efforts of farmers and ranchers, Ag in the Classroom programs and supporters of agricultural education, every child can learn about where their food and fiber comes from.

Full article shared from Ag Alert, with credit to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Indio Store Hosting Open House

Customers invited to get a first look at newly combined RDO Water / RDO Equipment Co. store RDO-Agriculture

Author: RDO Water

RDO Water / RDO Equipment Co. in Indio is hosting an open house on Thursday, November 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Customers and individuals interested in learning more about complete agriculture equipment and irrigation solutions are encouraged to attend the event to meet the team, tour the store, and enjoy lunch.

A full-service John Deere agriculture dealer, RDO Equipment Co. offers both new and used equipment, vast parts inventories, and service departments with highly-trained, certified technicians in all stores.

Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water, says he’s eager to show both RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water customers the advantages of working with a single enterprise. “We’re poised to offer Indio growers solutions for their agriculture equipment and irrigation needs, as well as access to new opportunities” he said.

RDO Water’s full irrigation offerings include pipe and system rental, pipe and pump repair, system automation, consulting, design and installation services, and products including drip tape, sprinkler heads, and fertilizer.
Team members from RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water will be available to answer questions and talk with attendees about the products, services, and support offered.

“The RDO Equipment Co. team is really looking forward to the opportunity to meet RDO Water customers,” Joe Castillo, General Manager of RDO Equipment Co. in Indio said.

To learn more about the open house, contact your account manager, or stop by or call RDO Water in Indio.

RDO Water Acquires Kuida Ag Supply Company of Salinas

Acquisition expands irrigation offerings at RDO Water stores in Salinas & Watsonville RDOWater_Salinas

Author: RDO Water

RDO Water, along with RDO Equipment Co., announces the acquisition of Kuida Ag Supply Company of Salinas. Over the next few weeks, RDO Water will be moving all Kuida Ag operations to its combination RDO Equipment Co. / RDO Water stores in Salinas and Watsonville.

The acquisition expands RDO Water’s offerings of irrigation products and solutions, which includes pipe and system rental; pipe and pump repair; system automation, design and installation services; consulting services; and products including drip tape, sprinkler heads and fertilizer.

RDO Water is also retaining the full Kuida Ag staff, bringing its strong community ties, deep knowledge of the industry and region, and more than 25 years of experience to the RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water businesses.

“We’re thrilled to be adding Kuida Ag to the RDO Water team,” Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water said. “The company’s strong customer relationships and regional insights are all valuable on their own, but most important is the philosophy of Kuida Ag. One that treats customers as stakeholders in the business and, above all else, puts people first. It aligns with how we’ve always done business at RDO Water and will continue to do going forward.”

Not only does the acquisition enhance RDO Water’s offerings, it opens additional opportunities for RDO Equipment Co. customers as well. Darrell Olson, General Manager of RDO Equipment Co. in Salinas explained, “Our customers have come to expect a total solutions experience from us, with agricultural equipment, service, and irrigation solutions. It’s exciting for us to provide them even greater opportunities to enhance their business.”

RDO Equipment Co., a full-service John Deere agriculture equipment dealer, has been serving the Salinas and Watsonville areas since the dealerships were acquired in 2011. The company acquired RDO Water – Salinas in 2013 and added RDO Water to the Watsonville store in 2015.

A grand opening celebration is planned in October at the RDO Equipment Co. / RDO Water store in Salinas. Customers and partners can stay up-to-date on details by visiting the RDO Water and RDO Equipment Co. websites.

Drip Irrigation Study Shows WUE Improvement

Study evaluated drip system distribution uniformity in key produce regions of California California_Drip_Irrigation

Author: Hank Giclas, Western Grower & Shipper

Water use efficiency has long been a priority for produce growers in the United States, but with diminishing water resources there has been a renewed urgency to improve efficiency in drip irrigation systems.

Western Growers, in concert with JR Simplot Water Services and The Toro Company, recently concluded a study to evaluate distribution uniformity in drip irrigation systems in key produce regions in California, including both the Oxnard Plain and the Coachella Valley.  This study was done in cooperation with Western Growers members who were interested in water efficiency and will be published soon to provide useful information to those operating drip systems.

An irrigation system’s uniformity of water distribution or distribution uniformity (DU) is a key measurement of a system’s water use efficiency.  If water is not distributed evenly or uniformly on a field, areas receiving less acre-feet of water may have poorer plant health and reduced crop yields.  Conversely, to compensate for unequal distribution and avoid reduced yields, the system must over-irrigate.

DU, expressed as a percentage, is considered outstanding when above 90 percent, as good between 70-90 percent, and poor when it is below 70 percent.  Operating with a DU above 90 percent makes good economic sense in that DU correlates closely to crop yield and reduces costs related to increased water use, which includes the water itself, energy to power the system, and often fertilizers and other chemicals run through drip systems.

These increased costs can be significant.  For example, an irrigation system operating at 75 percent DU versus 85 percent DU can use more than twice the water, three times the fertilizer and increase energy cost by three times.  In addition to increased costs, poor DU also impacts yield revenue.  A study in 2014 (J Anshutz, “Retrofitting your irrigation system for success and profitability”) assumed an average yield of 2,500 pounds per acre and a crop value of $3 per pound.  In a field with 85 percent DU, the author estimated a per-acre revenue loss of $188 due to DU degradation, while in a field with 75 percent DU, the loss grew dramatically to $563 per acre.  These numbers increase substantially as DU further degrades below 70 percent, demonstrating a real impact on the bottom line for growers using poorly designed and maintained irrigation systems.

Read the rest of the article here.

Full article shared from Toro DripTips website.

Drought Brings New Attention to Recycled Water

1.5 million acre-feet of recycled water to be contributed to the overall water supply by 2020 Water-Recycling

Author: Kate Campbell, AgAlert

Agricultural demand for recycled water is increasing along with the ability to supply it. But water experts say competition for access to the resource is rising—and say they’re unsure what the growing demand may mean for prices.

State water officials plan a survey of recycled water use in coming months—the first since 2009, when they estimated use of recycled water at 700,000 acre-feet. Results from the new survey could come early next year.

The State Water Resources Control Board is calling for recycled water to contribute 1.5 million acre-feet to the overall water supply by 2020 and at least 2.5 million acre-feet by 2030. Observers say the 2020 goal may be difficult to achieve, but say they’re more optimistic about reaching the 2030 standard.

Given drought pressures on California water supplies, Jennifer West of WateReuse California said she expects the upcoming survey to show an increase in the amount of recycled water being used statewide since the previous survey. In 2009, researchers found agriculture used nearly 40 percent of California’s recycled water supply, with landscape irrigation and groundwater recharge the next-most-popular uses.

West said the drought has increased the number of competing uses for recycled water and that negative public sentiment about its quality and use has diminished.

“Since the last survey, a lot has happened and there have been a lot of positive changes for water recycling,” she said. “Funding is available now through Proposition 1 (the water bond passed by California voters in 2014). There’s new technology and interest. I’m expecting the next survey will show a significant bump in all uses of recycled water.”

Because of adherence to strict water quality regulations for using recycled water on food crops, this irrigation option has a long history of safety, she said.

Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said Farm Bureau supports use of recycled water as a supplemental supply. He said institutions that furnish recycled water for irrigation should be responsible for assuring and maintaining proper quality for the intended crop uses.

“State and federal governments should do everything they can to increase supplies of freshwater, but recycled water can be an important part of our portfolio for addressing the California water crisis,” he said.

Merkley noted that CFBF favors overall expansion of the available water supply through increased storage—both aboveground and underground—plus recycling, desalination and improvements in water use efficiency.

In an agreement approved last week, the city of Turlock joined the city of Modesto in a 40-year agreement to sell recycled water to the Del Puerto Water District, which provides irrigation water to about 45,000 agricultural acres on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley between Vernalis and Santa Nella.

The district relies on water delivered through the federal Central Valley Project, which cut deliveries to zero in 2014 and 2015, and to 5 percent this year.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signed the record of decision last week for what is being called the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program at the Del Puerto district office in Patterson, certifying the program’s federal environmental documents. Del Puerto will cover the estimated $100 million construction cost, including pipelines from the treatment plants to the federal Delta-Mendota Canal for delivery to contractors.

Interim water deliveries could begin as early as this summer, with as much as 30 percent of the district’s supply needs being met by 2018.

West estimated there are about 100 recycled-water projects on the drawing boards in California, all in various stages of development. Whether they will be online in time to meet the state’s strategic goals under its recycled-water policy is not known at this time, she said.

Water district managers are increasingly looking at water supply options, she said, and recycled water projects can provide cities both a new revenue source and new ways to manage the discharge of treated water.

Recycled water beneficial uses vary considerably around the state, the Department of Water Resources found in its 2009 survey, and West said she expects new survey results will reveal continued diversification in the uses of recycled water.

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, said recycled water can come from a variety of sources, including treated urban wastewater and oilfield-produced water. No matter the source, he said, “it’s required to be high quality, treated water that meets every standard set by state water quality officials.”

On land north of Bakersfield, the Cawelo Water District and North Kern Water Storage District are currently working with the oil industry to use treated water on crops, Wade said.

The districts have been delivering water for more than 50 years to irrigate about 45,000 acres in Kern County, including irrigation water to about 34,000 acres of orchards, vineyards and field and row crops.

Oilfield-produced water is the byproduct of oil production, Wade said, and has been used in the growing region without any health or environmental issues.

Kate Campbell is an assistant editor of Ag Alert.

Full article shared from AgAlert, with credit to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

The Winners, Losers of El Nino in the West

While it hasn’t lived up to the full hype, El Nino has been good for Arizona and California

ElNino-California-ArizonaAuthor: Cary Blake, Western Farm Press

El Niño-related rain and snow falls last fall, winter, and early this spring have been on the sporadic side. Yet we should be (and are) thankful for the fallen moisture from the heavens. The Pacific Ocean-based warmer water phenomenon tossed more than a couple of buckets of rain and snow at California and Arizona – both facing severe drought.

Portions of California were blest with a decent version of the much prayed for (and overall delivered) “March Miracle” which will benefit farms, ranches, and others. Yet the 2015-2016 El Niño version failed to live up to its hype, as one media outlet called it a potential ‘Godzilla’ El Niño.

The weather folks, as did farmers and ranchers, certainly wanted a behemoth El Niño, yet part of the weather pattern lost its strength once it moved inland from the warmer ocean waters in the southern Pacific where it began.

Initially some thought that this El Niño would leap over most of California and begin dumping wetness on Arizona, followed by moisture in the southern-most states to the east.

Arizonans were ecstatic when rare El Niño rains actually began late last spring into the early summer, very rare moisture in the low desert. Even the summer monsoon season in the Grand Canyon State blossomed into a near gully washer in some areas, tied in part to El Niño.

Afterwards, portions of California received hit-and-miss liquid and frozen manna from the heavens. Good rains in Arizona in early January boosted crop hopes. Yet as I pen this, central Arizona has remained high and dry since late January (two months ago).

Warm weather and clear skies parched thoughts of a wet February in both states. A journalist from a major California newspaper proclaimed El Niño a dud – a.k.a. caput. Yet a week or so later in early March, meteorologists were all high-fives as a major weather front developed – and targeted its downpours on California. Arizona was left high and dry.

Many Californians have enjoyed the timely rains as reservoir levels have risen, while entirely too much water, for political and regulatory reasons, have drained into the ocean – a disgusting sight for water-starved agriculture.

Overall, El Niño turned out positive. Let’s hope it has a storm or two left this spring.

Full article shared from Western Farm Press