Tools, Technology Featured at Southwest Ag Summit

RDO Water to host live demo and panel discussion SWAgSummit

Author: RDO Water

Year after year, the Southwest Ag Summit continues to be a premier ag industry event that attracts professionals and students from Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico. Whether it’s the field demos or exhibitor show, the panel discussions or breakout seminars, or even the always-anticipated breakfast burritos or the always-sold-out Harvest Dinner, this annual event provides education, enjoyment, and the opportunity to see longtime colleagues and make new connections.

The Southwest Ag Summit is February 22-23 at Arizona Western College in Yuma, AZ. RDO Water in Yuma has been involved for several years. Especially in the past few years, the team has established itself as a leader in technology and become one of the most anticipated live demos at the event. This year’s demo is no exception, as the team is highlighting both soil moisture management tools and UAV technology.

An automatic moisture sensor will be displayed, with explanation of how such tools factor into an irrigation management strategy. The team will also discuss the use of drones in agriculture; specifically, using aerial imagery to identify areas of field stress, drought, or unhealthy field conditions, and the opportunity it provides growers to respond to and adjust operations quickly to minimize yield loss.

In addition to the live demo, RDO Water is sponsoring Thursday morning’s keynote panel, “Connected by the Colorado River,” at 7:30 a.m. The panel includes Chuck Cullom, Central Arizona Project; Tom Davis, Yuma County Water Users Association; and Dr. George Seperich, Arizona State University. A Water Panel Breakout will follow at 9:30 a.m.

Both RDO Water and RDO Equipment Co. will have booths in the exhibit area. Throughout the duration of the event, team members will be available to meet with customers, answer questions, and discuss the companies’ total solutions approach to agriculture equipment and irrigation. Visit RDO Water at booth, #27 and RDO Equipment Co. at booth #26.

Visit the Southwest Ag Summit website for more information on the event, including online registration, educational sessions and a full event schedule.

Interested in finding out more about soil moisture management tools and UAV technology? Join us for the RDO Water demo or visit booth #27 at the Southwest Ag Summit exhibitor show.

If you’re unable to attend the show but would like to learn more, contact your local RDO Water store in Arizona or California.

Toro’s Inge Bisconer to Receive Award

Bisconer recognized for outstanding contributions to the irrigation industryThe-Toro-Company

Author: The Toro Company

The Toro Company is pleased to announce that Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro’s Micro-Irrigation Business, will receive the Irrigation Association’s Industry Achievement Award for 2016.

Established in 1966, the Irrigation Association Industry Achievement Award recognizes employees or retirees from the irrigation industry that have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the advancement of the industry and its products and programs.

In her 35 years in the industry, Bisconer has established herself as a leader in helping agricultural growers improve profitability and sustainability through improved water and resource use efficiency, in addition to serving as an advocate for more efficient irrigation at both the state and national level. Bisconer’s recent achievements include:

  • Created Toro’s education portfolio, including: the award-winning Toro Micro-Irrigation Owner’s Manual, which helps educate growers of row, field and permanent crops about the proper design, installation, operation and maintenance of drip irrigation systems and complements; Toro’s AquaFlow design software; Drip Irrigation Payback Wizard; and, Solutions Brochures.
  • Recorded the “Agriculture Industry Response to California’s Drought” presentation at the invitation of the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Division for their Water and Drought Seminar Series.
  • Served on the California Irrigation Institute (CII) board of directors since 2010, and as president in 2014.CII is California’s oldest independent forum on irrigation and water.
  • Participated in the Irrigation Association’s “DC Fly-in” and “Agriculture Irrigation Technology Day on Capitol Hill” in 2013 and 2015 to advocate on behalf of efficient agricultural irrigation.
  • Presented on “Optimizing Irrigation Uniformity and Water Use Efficiency” to the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, which represents 3,500 California landowners who farm 700,000 acres.
  • Co-host of monthly agriculture segments for The Water Zone, an award-winning radio show on KCAA 1050 AM that is sponsored by Toro. High profile guests from agriculture, industry, academia, government, water agencies and associations have helped move the California water discussion forward.
  • Presented numerous webinars on The Grange Network, including: Making Drip Pay, The Toro Micro-Irrigation Owner’s Manual, Designing for Uniformity with Toro’s AquaFlow Design Software, Drip Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance, Overcoming Drip Irrigation Uniformity Challenges using Aqua-Traxx® FC Flow Control Drip Tape, and California Irrigation Institute 2014 Conference Wrap-Up.
  • Led efforts for The Toro Company to be invited to participate in The White House Water Summit on March 22, 2016, highlighting Toro’s innovation and initiatives in water use efficiency for agriculture, golf and grounds, commercial and residential.
  • Represented the agricultural irrigation industry in July 2015 at the Efficient Agriculture Irrigation Stakeholder Meeting, hosted by California Governor Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown’s office and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) at the Capitol in Sacramento

“It is an honor to have my efforts recognized by such an important industry membership association like the Irrigation Association,” says Bisconer. “Toro’s steadfast support has enabled me to broaden education and outreach efforts, which will ultimately affect change toward improved water use efficiency in local and global agriculture.”

Bisconer is a prime example of Toro’s attitude and dedication to enrich the beauty, productivity and sustainability of the land. “Toro’s legacy of innovation is rooted in the passionate employees who dedicate their lives to supporting our communities and the environment,” says Phil Burkart, vice president for Toro’s Irrigation and Lighting Businesses. “We have always known what an important asset Inge and those like her are to the industry. We congratulate her on this achievement and are immensely proud to have her on our team.”

Bisconer will be formally presented with the Industry Achievement Award at the Irrigation Association Show and Conference that will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2016.

Full article shared from Toro Drip Tips website.

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.

RDO Water in Salinas Moves to New Location

Relocation puts RDO Water and RDO Equipment Co. under one roof rdo_hawley_jd_9257

RDO Water in Salinas has moved the existing RDO Equipment Co. store at 501 El Camino Real S.

The move brings to the store RDO Water’s full irrigation solutions including 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.

As a full-service John Deere agriculture dealer with both new and used equipment, a vast parts inventory, and highly-trained service department, RDO Equipment Co. has been serving Monterey County since the dealership was acquired in 2011.

The addition of RDO Water now enables the store to offer a true total solutions experience to customers, according to Darrell Olson, General Manager of RDO Equipment Co. in Salinas. “It’s exciting for us to provide customers with more opportunities to enhance their business,” he said.

Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water, echoed Olson’s enthusiasm, saying, “Both current and potential new customers will benefit from the expanded offerings now available.”

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

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

RDO Water Releases Micro-Sprinkler Study Results

The benefits of micro-sprinkler irrigation for strawberry growers
Author: Danilu Ramirez, CCA, PCA, RDO Water RDO-Water-Micro-Sprinkler

Beginning in October of 2014, RDO Water participated in a 10-month research study with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension to evaluate the potential of micro-sprinklers in strawberry production. The study was conducted at Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria, CA.

Study Overview
To begin the study, a block of strawberry was divided into two parts:
• East half set up with grower-standard solid-set aluminum pipe sprinkler irrigation design for establishment
• West half set up with a micro-sprinkler irrigation design throughout the season

Each block was planted on Nov 6, 2014. Prior to planting, drip tape was installed in the beds and was the main method of irrigation throughout the duration of the study, the 2014-15 growing season.

Research was conducted periodically throughout the growing season. Upon conclusion of the study, results were compiled and shared by Surendra Dara, PhD, DAIT, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor and Affiliated IPM Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension. Read the complete report in his blog post.

Below is a summary of key takeaways and primary benefits of the micro-sprinkler irrigated field in four primary areas:
Water Savings; Energy and Labor Efficiency; Disease and Pest Control; Pesticide Reduction

Additional Note: Both fields produced an overall healthy crop comparable in total marketable yield.

Water Savings
Study Summary: Micro-sprinklers reduced total water usage and applied it more efficiently.

Reduced water usage during establishment
• Approximately 32% of water savings in just three weeks compared to solid-set aluminum pipe
• Micro-sprinklers delivered 81,600 gallons of water per acre during establishment vs 120,000 gallons of water per acre for aluminum pipe
• Micro-sprinklers saved nearly 40,000 gallons of water per acre during establishment

Efficient water application
• Micro-sprinklers apply water in a smaller droplet size that doesn’t bounce off plastic mulch
• More water goes directly to the plant
• Less run-off
o *Added benefit of reduced nitrate loading risk, potential to reduce Waterboard requirements

Energy and Labor Efficiency
Study Summary: Micro-sprinklers demonstrated significant energy and labor savings.

Efficient by design
*Micro-sprinkler irrigation systems don’t require constantly moving cumbersome aluminum pipe
• No pipe for crews to navigate during harvest, weeding, etc.; low-profile micros do not get in the way
• No pipe to move when tractors are in the field spraying, cultivating, etc.

Energy savings
• Low pressure system: Only 30 psi needed to deliver water through the system
• Typically better Distribution Uniformity compared to aluminum pipe

Efficient crop production
*Micro-sprinklers produced less unmarketable fruit
• Plant energy goes into producing good fruit
• Saved money, time and energy from harvesting unprofitable product
• Better conditions for crews, faster moving through the field, less time spent cleaning plants

Additional Notes: Marketable berry yield data was collected two to three times per week, from February 7 through June 12. The micro-sprinklers produced nearly 1,500 fewer unmarketable berries per plot while keeping up with total yield compared to the standard aluminum pipe sprinkler block.

Disease and Pest Control
Study Summary: A common misconception is that micro-sprinklers promote disease; on the contrary, they suppress it. They also create an ideal environment to control pests like spider mites, and foster good beneficial insect populations.

Disease Control
*Powdery mildew severity was tested twice, in April and again in June
• Both tests showed significantly less mildew in micro-sprinklers

*Botrytis fruit rot was tested once per month in March, April, May and June.
• Micro-sprinklers showed less severe Botrytis fruit rot initially
• A significant difference was seen three days after harvest samples were collected
• In Micros: Easy to visually see much less rotten fruit being culled and thrown into the furrows

Pest Control
*Micro-sprinklers create a humid environment
• Spider mite webbing cannot form in high humidity
• Mites cannot thrive due to lack of dusty conditions, micros fine mist keeps dust off leaves
• Water stress prevention helps suppress populations of two spotted spider mites and boosts overall plant health
• Fosters good beneficial insect growth – less money is spent on releasing and establishing Persimilis as they thrive in humid conditions
• High humidity is needed to ensure Persimilis egg hatch

Pesticide Reduction
Study Summary: Micro-sprinklers offer more efficient and safe pesticide control, as well as the option for pesticide-free control.

Humidity Control
*As mentioned earlier, micro-sprinklers create a humid environment, not conducive to spider mite growth, allowing pest control via water vs. traditional pesticides
• High humidity environment is created by running micros at frequent short intervals per field conditions
• Use of humidity is environmentally sustainable and does not contribute to pesticide resistance as do conventional miticide sprays
• Humidity can be used as an organic method of spider mite control or as an aid in a conventional system
• As humidity strengthens persimilis counts, they also work to control spider mite hot spots

Pesticide Application
*Direct application of several types of pesticides via chemigation through the system
• More efficient, safe application
• Eliminates need for helicopter sprays; rainy winters, when furrows are too muddy for tractors to spray, micros can be used as a foliar applicator
• Per labels, fungicides, pesticides and fertilizers can be applied via micros as a foliar spray

Overall Study Summary
Micro-sprinklers have a long list of benefits that have been proven to be statistically significant through RDO Water’s trial work with the UC Extension. Water and energy savings during establishment are of high importance as the drought continues to affect California growers. Using a low pressure energy efficient system that saves more than 30 percent water and concurrently helps reduce pesticide use while promoting beneficial insect populations might sound too good to be true but it’s a reality. Labor savings, disease suppression, and less unmarketable fruit include even more benefits. Micro sprinklers are influencing strawberry growing practices now and will continue to make an impact in the years to come.

About The Author
Danilu Ramirez, CCA, PCA is a Water Quality Consultant for RDO Water, based in Santa Maria, CA. Contact her at 805.345.5418 or dramirez@rdowater.com.