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.

Deserts – Key to Feeding Future Global Population

Food crop production must expand into land areas considered to harsh, wet, or dry RDO-Water

Author: Lee Allen, Western Farm Press

Merle Jensen may not walk on water, but he knows a lot about it – the water part anyway.

He says, “Farming’s future is totally dependent on the availability of good water for crop production and the proper placement of that water for higher yield. The whole future of growing crops is dependent on the best method of irrigation and fertigation, and farmers would be wise to consider adapting the concept of drip irrigation now – or they might find themselves out of business.”

Jensen, a retired professor Emeritus plant scientist at the University of Arizona (UA), spent his career growing vegetable crops in harsh desert climates over the world – from Mexico and Latin America to Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

“There are over 20,000 miles of desert coastline in the world that, if made habitable, could feed millions of people,” he says, strongly recommending drip irrigation for plants grown in sand.

In most cases, edibles are seeded directly into leached beach sand and once growing are put on constant liquid-feed solutions of commercial-grade fertilizer applied through the irrigation system.

With a United Nations estimation that the world’s population will grow by an additional 4 billion to 11.2 billion by 2100, there’s a major concern by food scientists about where food will be grown.

“Vast areas of prime agricultural land are being taken out of production each year and we’re losing farmland and rich river valleys,” Jensen says.

“Production of food crops will have to expand into land areas always thought as too harsh, too wet or dry. If we are to successfully increase our supply of food, we must increase the output our land is producing.”

He adds, “Growth in food production will not keep pace unless we extend agriculture into new areas. And toward that end, the day will come when the world’s deserts must be cultivated.”

That day is here thanks to a variety of issues that work in conjunction toward a common goal, including trickle irrigation where measured amounts of a water and nutrient mix drip onto plants from a narrow hose running the length of the furrow, using whatever soil is available, including sand in Iran, Morocco, Jordan, Israel, and the American Southwest.

A People magazine feature on horticulture quoted Jensen saying, “Year-round growth can give yields 10 to 40 times greater than standard open-field production.”

Another publication, Horticulture magazine, cited “the outlandish world of Merle Jensen” who “has a penchant for blending Buck Rogers with Rube Goldberg for futuristic desert farming.”

Well, the future is now.

According to scientists with degrees from Cal Poly, Cornell, and Rutgers, the pro versus con formula is pretty simple. Over the short term, the negatives include a higher cost to implement along with salinity hazards and an increased sensitivity to clogging.

Jensen replies, “Expensive, yes, but the future alternative is you’re either in production or out of it, and you won’t be in production if you don’t find a way to conserve water.”

Advantages tend to outweigh negatives – maximum use of water maximizes crop yield, less weed growth or soil erosion, relatively low labor and operational costs, less evaporation compared to surface irrigation, and decreased tillage. notes, “One of the most important aspects of this method is that the watered zone is only along the plant line, leaving the rest of the field dry – using the least amount of scarce and/or costly water possible. Because the watered zone is shadowed by the plant itself, evaporation is minimal, consumption is lowered, and the required moisture level in the root zone is maintained. Additionally, fertilizers can be used via the drip system, thus reducing that volume needed.”

Jensen proved the efficacy of drip irrigation at the UA’s Environmental Research Laboratory.  Time magazine, in 1967, reported on Jensen’s experiments in the integrated production of vegetables, electricity, and desalted water in the soil-poor desert of Arabia’s Abu Dhabi.

They termed the growing of food in Sadiyat, a sandy, essentially barren, uninhabited island, ‘sand culture.’ And they proved it would work in an area with strong prevailing winds and rainfall that averaged less than two inches per year.

The facility and a previous prototype in Puerto Penasco, Mexico were intended to make a coastal desert agriculturally productive.

In Sonora, plants were seeded in separate plots of beach sand or sphagnum peat moss/vermiculite and grew equally well in either drip-irrigated medium. Once the efficacy of the concept literally bore fruit, it expanded to other countries throughout the world.

Another strong proponent of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) is fellow Arizonan Howard Wuertz of Sundance Farms in Coolidge, the 2016 winner of Netafim USA’s Award for Advancement in Microirrigation –

“SDI delivers many benefits and we encourage growers to take measures to ensure the sustainability of their farming operations for generations to come,” says Wuertz.

“Successful farming in the desert is not only about using water more efficiently, but about being productive with the resources we have and subsurface drip irrigation has allowed us to boost our productivity per acre with less water than traditional irrigation methods.”

The Wuertz family estimates a reduction in water usage up to 50 percent on their 3,200-acre farm.

While Wuertz has been referred to as “the father of subsurface drip irrigation,” Jensen claims some of that parentage too due to his longevity in drip cultivation trials throughout the globe.

Former colleague Hassan Elattir, Morocco’s first horticulturist, worked with Jensen to initiate drip irrigation there. Elattir praises the growth since their first drip irrigation experiments in 1975.

“By 2020, there will be more than 500,000 hectares of crops under drip irrigation,” Elattir says.

And that’s good news as the estimation is that more food will needed in the first half of this century than was produced in the previous 100 centuries combined.

Jensen isn’t one to generally say ‘I told you so,’ but in this case, he does.

“The projects we’ve been involved with have demonstrated it is possible to produce vegetables in many sandy areas of the world where almost nothing now grows,” said Jensen.

Full article shared from Western Farm Press website.

RDO Equipment Co. Teams Up with Sentera

Partnership expands, brings new UAV products and opportunities to customers RDOPhantomDrone

Author: RDO Equipment Co.

RDO Equipment Co. has teamed up with Sentera, a UAV-focused company offering image and data solutions for drones. The new partnership enhances current UAV products and support offered by RDO Equipment Co., and extends the opportunity for the technology to more customers, primarily in the agriculture industry, and also to those in the construction, infrastructure, and public safety industries

What: New Offerings
Per the new partnership, RDO Equipment Co. is offering the DJI Phantom Drone equipped with Sentera’s Single Sensor, a premium NIR/NDVI sensor. Kris Poulson, Vice President of Agriculture at Sentera, explains why this sensor is ideally suited for agriculture use, saying, “The Single Sensor is designed to monitor crop health through NIR/NDVI data collection, allowing growers to quickly identify, assess, and address problems proactively.”

Also available, exclusive to RDO Equipment Co. customers, is Sentera’s AgVault™ image data management platform. This user-friendly system manages all RGB, NIR, and NDVI data, and seamlessly integrates with the John Deere Operations Center for easy management and sharing.

Why: Meeting Customer Needs
According to Jeff Lemna, Director of Customer Support, the partnership fills a customer need for an entry-level UAV option and easy-to-use data management platform, backed with strong technical support.

“There’s a large number of agricultural professionals interested in UAVs who are new to the concept and technology,” he said. “Our partnership with Sentera offers these customers the opportunity to add UAV technology to their operations with a high-quality unit and the support they need, at an affordable price.”

Lemna also spoke to the advantages the partnership provides all RDO Equipment Co. customers, saying, “Our new relationship with Sentera expands and strengthens our complete UAV offerings. Not only are we opening the door for new customers to enter the UAV space, we’re better able to support existing customers with new options.”

Where: Availability
At this time, six RDO Equipment Co. stores are offering the DJI Phantom Drone with the unique Sentera Single Sensor and access to Sentera AgVault software:

Yuma, AZ
-Breckenridge and Moorhead, MN
-Bismarck, ND
-Aberdeen, SD
-Pasco, WA

RDO Equipment Co. intends to expand to additional stores; in the meantime, customers can learn more about Sentera offerings and see product demos by contacting the precision product specialist team at their nearest RDO Equipment Co. store.

Get more info on precision agriculture offerings from RDO Equipment Co.

See complete UAV products, and learn more about service and support offered from RDO Integrated Controls, a division of RDO Equipment Co.

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

6 Must-Ask Drip/Subsurface Drip Irrigation Questions

Questions to ask the design engineer when converting to drip or subsurface drip irrigation RDO-Water-Drip-Irrigation

Author: DuWayne Fritz, RDO Water

With contribution from Eurodrip USA and Toro Micro-Irrigation

Once it has been decided to convert a field to drip or SDI, growers can expect many questions from the irrigation engineer designing the system. It’s equally important growers are proactive and ask questions that ensure a full understanding of the system – how it works and how it affects current operations.


The following 6 questions are a solid starting point and put all growers in the best position to reap benefits of greater yields, WUE and RUE that have become synonymous with drip and SDI systems.


Existing Field Conditions

The initial questions to ask the irrigation engineer should focus on the present situation. The three major areas to explore:


  1. Question: How will the system affect crop rotations?

Answer: A system can be built to accommodate future crop rotations.


For example, say the proposed field is primarily a vegetable crop field but will be rotated to alfalfa in the future. A good designer will ensure the system’s infrastructure is designed to support greater water pressure and capacity demands to accommodate the future alfalfa crop.


  1. Question: How does soil type affect the system?

Answer: Soil type affects the system’s emitters.


Sandy soils need a different flow emitter than a loamy soil. Another parameter determined by soil type is emitter spacing. A soil that encourages the spread of water can have emitters spaced further apart vs. a soil that holds water close.

  1. Question: How are lateral spacing and depth determined?

Answer: Several factors, including crop type, influence these design parameters.


As mentioned above, soil type/texture determines approximate emitter spacing – but it’s only part of the story. Crop type plays a huge role in spacing. A crop that requires more water, alfalfa, for example, needs closer-spaced emitters vs. crops like lettuce, cotton or berries.


The crop type also heavily influences line depth. Again, let’s look at alfalfa. Because of its deep roots, drip lines must be installed 10 inches or deeper.


When depth and lateral spacing are set, lateral flow rate, emitter flow rate and spacing, and lateral wall thickness and diameter can be set. Each step is dependent on the one prior, and is also affected by general characteristics of the field.


Operational Changes

Converting a field to drip or SDI greatly affects the day-in, day-out operations of a farm. To be prepared and set up for best success, every grower should ask three primary questions:


  1. Question: How do I set irrigation periods?

Answer: There are several options for controlling irrigation periods.


A grower may choose daily intervals in which the system is run for a short period of time every day to put out the daily required amount of water. Another option is running the system every few days, for a longer time period, and put out multiple days-worth of water in a single day.


Automation systems offer assistance with setting irrigation periods. These systems come with an added upfront cost but offer time and labor-saving benefits. Every grower should analyze the cost/benefit ratio to decide if it makes sense for his/her unique operation.


  1. Question: Do I need to change fertilizer?

Answer: It shouldn’t be necessary to change fertilizer.


Operations that use fertilizer with higher acidic levels require a system that uses PVC or steel pipe, to ensure acid doesn’t corrode the system – something that a good engineer will ask about early on in the process and specify in the system.


  1. Question: How do I maintain the system?

Answer: An integrated, planned approach is advised for all drip and SDI systems.

A few best practices include periodic flushing every 2-4 weeks to rid the system of potentially clogging debris. Periodic filter maintenance is also recommended, as is regular inspection of the piping system for leaks.


An ongoing, dedicated rodent management plan is also recommended. Those looking for a place to start can access a best management practices article by Danilu Ramirez, Water Quality Consultant for RDO Water.


In regions that shut down systems for winter, it’s advised to either terminate crops or run the system once a week or even every-other week to prevent root intrusion.

About The Author
DuWayne Fritz is the Lead Irrigation Designer for RDO Water, based in Yuma, AZ. Contact him at


Additional contribution to this article provided by Eurodrip USA and Toro Micro-Irrigation.


Article originally written for Progressive Forage Grower magazine. Full article can be viewed on Progressive Forage Grower website.

Growing the Fruit Kings in the Low Desert

From the Coachella Valley to Yuma, taking a closer look at the date business Fruit-Trees-Dates

Author: Lee Allen, Western Farm Press

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but here’s to DATES. They’re more than a romantic rendezvous or an appointment on a calendar — they’re a big business, and continuing to grow even larger in the low desert commercial production areas in Yuma, Ariz., plus Imperial and Riverside counties in California.

There’s seldom a quiet moment on Medjool date farms, no matter on which side of the Colorado River they are grown. From the first work of the year, dethorning at the end of the dormant period, to early spring pollination, followed by training the fruit arms, ringing, and bagging, and ultimately, an always crazy fall harvest, there’s always work to be done.

While the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) has had many uses over its 5,000 year history, it’s most popular use is providing shelter, fuel, and materials for construction-weaving-basket making. But it’s most important reason for existence is the food it provides.

And for the 100 growers in California, plus a growing number in Arizona, the public’s increasing recognition of this healthy food means a rapidly-expanding fresh date industry, particularly for the Medjool variety.

According to the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association (BVMDGA), a consortium of family growers responsible for producing more than 60 percent of Medjools grown in the U.S., 11 million pounds of this particular Fruit of Kings was produced last season.

This unique microclimate is the right place to grow the right product, according to BVMDGA marketing efforts, which say, “Bard Valley, nestled where California and Arizona meet, lies in a sun-drenched corner of the Southwest where Medjool date gardens are nourished by the Colorado’s high water table and ever-present sunshine.”

And while the Coachella Valley, located southeast of Indio, is still the largest overall date growing district, the geographic dateline is shifting eastward into the Yuma area, following the footsteps of pioneer Gusmar Nunez of the Imperial Date Gardens, who boldly began expansion planting there in the 1990s.

“There are 5,000 acres already planted in Arizona, and a good rule of thumb is you get 10,000 pounds of production per acre,” says Dave Mansheim, manager of Bard Date Company, custom growers and packers, and current BVMDGA president.

“It’s safe to say that the industry, in total, represents in excess of 40 million pounds annually, representing something north of $140 million,” says John Haydock, chief executive officer of DatePac (owners of the Natural Delights brand).

Lorrie Cooper is manager of the California Date Commission (CDC) at Indio, where they predict another volume increase this year and throughout the decade ahead. “Growers have seen lots of new growth coming on board — perhaps a little at a time, but there is a constant uptick, and it’s a good time to be in the industry,” she says.

33 Different Types

According to CDC statistics, 33 different types of dates are grown in the Coachella Valley. The majority of date palms are the Deglet Noor variety, which like hotter and dryer conditions, while the Medjool variety prevails in the Yuma Valley’s humidity.

Emphasizing that dates are not a get-rich-quick scheme, but a long-term that may take a dozen years to reach a break-even point, Mansheim is optimistic about the industry’s future.

“We’re on a double-digit growth curve, and I anticipate a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in volume over the next 5 to 10 years,” he says.

Once new trees enter commercial production, date palms can continuously bear fruit for decades. The average lifespan for a date palm is 200 years. When it grows to a height of 80 feet, it is no longer economically feasible to harvest.
But if it were that easy — plant, produce, pick — everybody would be a date farmer. In real life, problems exist, ranging from water to labor supply issues, along with changing climate conditions that can bring pests and disease.

Lots of gallons of water (200 gallons a day per palm in Yuma, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times) have allegedly affected local aquifers.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve and are converting from flood irrigation to drip, which will save us 1 to 1½ acre feet of water annually,” says Mansheim. “Not only will this be a significant cost reduction, it’s part of our effort at sustainability. Our food value output, versus our cost input, makes dates a sustainable product — if we continue to maintain our efficiency.”

When it comes to pests and diseases, he knocks on wood … literally. “Currently, in the lower desert areas we have no natural pests, and not much insect pressure in Yuma, Bard, and Imperial. In Coachella, they get a bit more insect pressure. With no major pests attacking our crop, we don’t use any pesticides on our trees.”

California growers contend with a continual battle involving the carob moth, and a new problem wit the hibiscus pink mealybug. “That little bugger will go after everything, from date palms to citrus,” says Cooper. “There’s nothing it doesn’t like, so everyone is working to find a way to eradicate this bug from the valley.”

There is continual monitoring for two other specific pests that have made their presence known. Red palm weevil, a native of North Africa, was found a couple of years ago in the Long Beach area (although not seen again since), and two specimens of South American palm weevil have shown up, one near Mexicali and the other north of Yuma. It’s believed they were brought there on banana plants from Central America.

Constant Monitoring

“We work with the Department of Agriculture to constantly monitor for these pests, because they could decimate the industry,” says Mansheim.

Labor issues are his greatest frustration, he says. “Bureaucrats in Washington have come up with a one-size-fits-all worker program that causes hardships everywhere. On a daily basis, three quarters of our Yuma-Bard Valley labor force comes from Mexico. We’re not cold, heartless corporate barons — if we could have a guest worker program under local or regional control, our labor shortages could be resolved efficiently.”

At harvest time, more than 500 laborers (palmeros) can be involved in a date palm site. “We appreciate the work force we have,” says Natural Delights’ Haydock. “To harvest a Medjool takes six or more trips up the trees for hand work. We couldn’t do it without the work force we have.

Taking a page from the avocado industry playbook when it comes to marketing a healthy product, area date producers and packers want to expand their domestic market and further increase exports.

“Of our total production, about 40 percent is exported outside of North America and, of that number, nearly two thirds goes to, or through, Australia. The rest goes to Europe and Asian markets, so our international growth looks strong,” says Mansheim.

Cooper adds, “It’s sometimes difficult, price-wise, to sell California dates to Europe because they can get them cheaper from the Middle East. Our current export markets are Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, but we expect as production volume continues to increase that expansion of exports will be on the table for discussion.”

Looking to emulate success rather than reinventing the wheel, the BVMDGA is seeking to include more of industry players in an effort to build strength through unity.

“We can be much more productive by pooling our money to market the health benefits of our product, replicating the success of the avocado industry, which grew consumption of their product by focusing on health issues,” Mansheim says.

“Our focus is to drive consumers to our product, which will expand consumption,” says Haydock. “We’re investing heavily in advertising online, in print, and in social media.”

While price may be an issue, the ability of dates to act as a power fruit goes without question. Fresh and moist Medjools (other dates come dried) contain 16 vitamins and minerals, with 50 percent more potassium by weight than bananas, and are a good source of dietary fiber.

Medjools also contain natural sugars, are cholesterol- and fat-free, and are certified heart healthy by the American Heart Association.

In fact, when the association came out with an article about sweetener additives, food manufacturers who make protein and snack bars started purchasing Deglet Noor paste as a substitute for processed sugar.

“We’re on an upward growth curve, with a repetitive double-digit increase that should continue as new groves add to our base,” Mansheim predicts.

Full article shared from Western Farm Press

World Ag Expo Sets Attendance Record

Annual show saw 106,349 attendees in three days

Author: World Ag Expo RDO-Water-Ag-Expo

Thursday, February 11, 2016, marked the final day of the three-day show, World Ag Expo. The 49th annual show, which was held at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California, opened Tuesday, February 9, at 9:00 a.m. Attendees and exhibitors from all over the U.S. and several countries came to the show grounds to join in the largest annual outdoor agricultural expo in the world, which spans over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. The three-day show housed over 1,500 exhibitors and hosted a record-breaking 106,349 attendees. In 2015, World Ag Expo hosted 102,867 attendees.

“There’s nothing like it in the world—Tulare nearly doubles in size during the week of World Ag Expo, “ said Jerry Sinift, the International Agri-Center’s chief executive officer. “This year was a great success for everyone involved. Our exhibitors are happy. Our attendees were awestruck. World Ag Expo maintains relevance through showcasing everything from massive tractors to smart phone applications—all to improve ag operations of our attendees and educate the society at large about agriculture.”

“We chose the World Ag Expo to launch our Australian Water Saving Granules Product into the USA. We could not have achieved a better response or more overwhelming exposure elsewhere,” said Elizabeth Millar, Commercial Sales Manager for The Water Saving Granule Company. “The attendance was incredible…we reserved our exhibit space for 2017 before we had even left the grounds.”

Jason Parker, Director of Sales & Marketing for Lindsay Corporation said, “World Ag Expo gives us a great opportunity to get our products in front of growers from all over….We look forward to coming back to Tulare year after year!”

Other attractions at World Ag Expo this year included the Equipment Showcase in the World Ag Expo Arena, multiple Ride & Drives, educational seminars, and Wednesday’s Budweiser After-Hours party featuring country artist Jon Pardi. Next year, World Ag Expo will be held February 14-16, 2017 at the International Agri-Center grounds in Tulare, California.


Article shared from World Ag Expo site.

RDO Water a Key Participant at Southwest Ag Summit

Company will sponsor major panel discussion, exhibit and demo new irrigation technology at Yuma’s largest annual agriculture event

Southwest-Ag-Summit-DemoThis February 24 and 25, hundreds of Ag professionals and students from Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico and Northern Mexico will gather in Yuma for the annual Southwest Ag Summit. The event, held at Arizona Western College in partnership with Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, Yuma County Farm Bureau and University of Arizona, brings attendees the newest info, issues, trends and regulations affecting agriculture. In addition to two days of symposium-style learning opportunities, the event features two days of exhibits and a full morning of field demonstrations.


RDO Water in Yuma has been involved in the show for several years, and joined on as a major sponsor and demo participant last year. The team is excited to build on the success and engagement of last year’s demo, which featured remote starting capabilities of portable diesel pumps and Certa-set irrigation pipe with automatic vales. This year’s event will again feature automation systems, with an added focus on chemigation.


“Chemigation is a key part of growing a crop using a pressurized irrigation system,” said Ernesto Beltran, Regional Sales Manager for RDO Water. “As we’ll show in the demo, these systems allow a grower to apply precise doses while controlling two very important components of crop management: pH and CE. This results in optimal conditions for the plant to take in the applied products.”


Highlighting the industry’s increased focus on chemigation, Beltran continued, “Products have been and are continuing to be developed, specifically to be used in pressurized systems. These products are also design to react quicker than a conventional product, enhancing the efficiency of the process, overall.”


In addition to putting on a live demo, RDO Water is sponsoring this year’s water panel discussion, a special seminar featuring industry experts. The company will also have a booth in the exhibit area. RDO Water team members will be available to answer questions at the booth, #34, during the event.


Those interested in learning more about automation and chemigation are encouraged to attend the demo, visit the RDO Water booth at the expo or contact his/her local RDO Water store. The full list of RDO Water’s eight locations in Arizona and California can be found on the Contact Us page of this site.


For more information on the Southwest Ag Summit, including online registration, educational sessions and a full event schedule, visit

Farmers Must Stay Engaged in Groundwater Planning

California’s adoption of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is predicted to shape the future of groundwater basin management

Author: Jack Rice, Ag Alert

Farmers and ranchers have been inundated with water issues the past few years. Drought, curtailments, the water bond, federal drought legislation, state drought legislation, diversion monitoring and reporting, El Niño … the list goes on. Those of us at the California Farm Bureau Federation are working hard on each of these issues to represent the interests of agriculture.

But of all the changes, the one with the most lasting implications for agriculture was California’s adoption of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014.

For the next quarter century, SGMA will shape how groundwater basins are managed. This management cannot only affect the cost and availability of groundwater, but may have implications for land use, crop types and regional economic development. Of all those who will be affected by the new law, none will be impacted more than farmers and ranchers.

The implications of SGMA are daunting and can seem overwhelming, but I am convinced that agriculture can continue to thrive as the law is implemented, so long as farmers and ranchers engage in the groundwater management process. Here is a brief update on recent SGMA events and a few ideas about how farmers and ranchers can engage in groundwater management.

Recent events in SGMA implementation include:

Basin boundary modifications:

Local agencies have until March 31 to request the state Department of Water Resources to modify basin boundaries for areas where it is believed the existing boundaries are not appropriate. Regulations governing basin boundary modifications were adopted last fall and generally require consensus among affected local agencies for boundaries to be changed.

Groundwater Sustainability Agency formation:

Local agencies have until June 30, 2017, to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency. As of the end of January, 135 local agencies had notified DWR of their intention to become a GSA. The makeup of the GSA is important, because these entities will be making decisions affecting groundwater use and fees as they develop local Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

Critically overdrafted basins:

DWR released the final list of critically overdrafted basins in January. SGMA requires those basins to have Groundwater Sustainability Plans adopted by Jan. 31, 2020. Other basins have until Jan. 31, 2022, to adopt plans. It is particularly important for farmers and ranchers in critically overdrafted basins to get engaged early, because of the shorter timeframe and because it will be challenging to address the overdraft condition.

Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations:

DWR is currently working on emergency regulations to be used in evaluating Groundwater Sustainability Plans. The regulations must be adopted by June 1, and will provide guidance on what is required in a plan in order to avoid state intervention. Because the language of the law is somewhat unclear, these regulations will provide critical details needed to better understand SGMA requirements.

While we know it is essential for farmers and ranchers to be involved in implementing SGMA, it can be hard to know how to participate in the process effectively. Because of the tremendous variability of groundwater conditions—both technically and politically—it is impossible to identify a single “right” approach. However, I believe the following principles are helpful to keep in mind as you consider how to engage in your area.

Stay informed:

Groundwater is technically, legally and politically complicated. It is essential to become well informed as basins form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and begin developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans. It is particularly important for agricultural representatives—whoever attends meetings and speaks on behalf of farmers and ranchers—to be especially knowledgeable of groundwater and its politics.

In addition, groundwater users must stay informed about how Groundwater Sustainability Plans are developing. Plans can require groundwater users to pay fees, meter wells or reduce pumping. Keeping water users informed is important to gathering grassroots support if it becomes necessary to encourage a Groundwater Sustainability Agency to change course, and also to ensure appropriate plan elements do not surprise users and cause an otherwise good approach to be derailed by conflict.

Assure agriculture has a voice:

A primary focus should be ensuring that the local Groundwater Sustainability Agency being formed to manage the basin is knowledgeable of and sensitive to the needs of farmers and ranchers. This may be relatively straightforward in areas where there are irrigation districts with agricultural representation on the board. For other areas, it may be much more difficult and require actively working with local agencies to ensure there is a place for agriculture.

Stay engaged for the long term:

Development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan will take four or six years, and implementation another 20. Recognizing that SGMA is now part of doing business, local farmers and ranchers, and Farm Bureau and other organizations, must be prepared to participate and shape groundwater discussions over the long term.

Though SGMA represents a significant change, it is nothing farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations can’t handle. It will require adjustments and take time and money, but we have endured this before. Farmers and ranchers depend on a “sustainable” groundwater future more than anyone else. We need to make sure we are part of the discussion as that future is defined.

(Jack Rice is an associate counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation. He may be reached at

Article shared from AgAlert website.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

CA, AZ Prepare for 2016 Cotton Season

As the 2016 cotton planting season approaches, growers are evaluating information to make the best seed selection for their operations.

Author: Western Farm Press RDO-Equipment-Co.

This article includes cotton information based on last year’s crop results, plus new varieties available to growers this year.

In 2015, Dow AgroSciences’ Phytogen cotton seed brand was the top planted Pima- and Upland Acala-type cottons in the Golden State, followed by Bayer CropScience’s FiberMax and Stoneville cotton.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly half of the California Upland crop was spread across four Phytogen varieties. More than 82 percent of the Pima crop was planted in two Phytogen varieties.

Dow sales rep Harry Peck in California says PHY 725 RF has good yield potential and Roundup Ready Flex technology. Some growers have reported yield averages of 3-4 bales per acre. Along with PHY 755 WRF, Peck says these two varieties have performed well across the San Joaquin Valley. PHY 755 WRF includes glyphosate resistance technology and WideStrike insect protection.

New to PhytoGen’s 2016 Acala cotton seed line up is PHY 764 WRF with glyphosate resistance and WideStrike. Peck says two Tulare County growers last year yielded 20 percent more lint with PHY 764 WRF, compared to PHY 725 WRF.

PhytoGen’s Pima cotton offerings for California include: PHY 802 RF, PHY 805 RF, PHY 811 RF, PHY 830, plus two new varieties for 2016 – PHY 841 RF and PHY 881 RF. The new varieties have larger seeds compared to most Pima varieties.

Bayer CropScience has its Stoneville and FiberMax cotton brands. California growers in 2016 can plant Bayer’s Daytona RF, an Acala which San Joaquin Valley cotton growers have grown for several years. Daytona RF includes Roundup Ready Flex technology without Bt or LibertyLink technology.

“The real sweet-spot for the Daytona is in the Dos Palos area,” says Kenny Melton, agronomist with Bayer CropScience.

He says Daytona RF offers good tolerance to Verticillium wilt, plus very good fiber quality and strength.

On the FiberMax side, Bayer will offer FM 1830 GLT which includes high yields with full tolerance to Liberty and glyphosate herbicides, plus broad-spectrum lepidopteran insect protection.

Also available from Bayer this year include are: FM 2322GL – a medium maturity Upland with herbicide tolerance only; FM 2334GLT from the same background as FM 1830GLT with a slightly later maturing seed; and FM 2007GLT – a medium-maturing Upland variety with good quality fiber and performs well under tougher growing conditions.

Monsanto’s Deltapine cotton brand accounted for about 16 percent of California’s Upland crop including five varieties, and about 8.5 percent of the Pima crop.

For 2016, Deltapine Upland varieties for the Golden State will include DP 1044 B2RF, DP 1133 B2RF, DP 1522 B2XF, DP 1553 B2XF, and DP 1555 B2XF. Deltapine’s three Pima varieties include DP 340 PIMA, DP 348 RF PIMA, and DP 358 RF PIMA.

About 45 percent of Arizona’s cotton acreage last year was planted in Monsanto Deltapine varieties. The company’s DP 1055 B2RF variety was the most popular variety, planted on 23 percent of the state’s acreage.

Dave Albers, Monsanto’s cotton germplasm manager, calls the company’s DP 1044 B2RF, DP 1219 B2RF, and DP 1359 B2RF the “Big Three” varieties in Arizona.

Western Cotton Updates
The cotton industry in the western U.S. faces a wide range of issues affecting profitability.

While the continued popularity of DP 1044 B2RF is Arizona is impressive, Albers says Monsanto’s biggest variety news is the performance of the Class of 15 variety – DP 1549 B2XF. The new variety offers growers improved germplasm and more weed control options with the triple-stack of dicamba, glufosinate, and glyphosate tolerance.

EPA has not yet approved dicamba use over the top of cotton.

“DP 1549 B2XF is an option for growers wanting improved weed control and to try out XtendFlex technology,” Albers said.

The variety has similar plant performance to Deltapine’s DP 1219 B2RF and DP 1359 B2RF varieties.

He added, “In many situations, I encourage Arizona growers to also try the DP 1646 B2XF variety with its excellent fiber and yield, plus mid-to-full maturity. A seed block near Coolidge last year yielded four-plus bales per acre and a 39 staple average.”

From Dow AgroSciences, the company expects to have a good supply of seed this year for Arizona growers, including the Uplands PHY 312, PHY 333, and PHY 499 WRF. There will be limited quantities of PHY 444 WRF, PHY 339 WRF, and PHY 375 WRF seed.

Junior Evans, Dow’s Arizona field rep, says PHY 399 WRF and PHY 312 are good options for growers coming off wheat or alfalfa crop rotations. Its early-maturity profile fits these cropping systems and works well in no-till operations.

On the extra-long staple side, PHY 805 RF was the top Pima planted in Arizona last year. Dow’s latest Pima entry for Arizona is PHY 811 RF which has good yield potential and fiber quality. Several Arizona growers picked more than 2.5 bales per acre from these two varieties, plus up to six-bale yields along the Colorado River with PHY 339 and PHY 499.

For 2016, PhytoGen has three new Upland varieties available for Arizona growers – PHY 312 WRF, PHY 333 WRF, PHY 499 WRF, and PHY 764 WRF (Acala). Dow will also have two new Pima varieties in Arizona grower trials in the state – PHY 841 RF and PHY 881 RF.

From Bayer CropScience, the company’s top Arizona variety last year was Stoneville ST 4946-GLB2 with good yields, fiber quality, plus good heat tolerance across Arizona, says Bayer’s Kenny Melton. Stoneville ST 4946-GLB2 has tolerance to the root knot nematode.

2016 will be the third year on the market for FiberMax FM 1830-GLT which offers early-to-mid-season maturity, good Verticillium wilt tolerance, and good fiber quality.
Bayer will have a good supply of Stoneville ST 4946-GLB2 and FiberMax FM 1830-GLT seeds.

The company will launch three new varieties in 2016: Stoneville 4848-GLT and Stoneville ST 4949-GLT – best used in central and western Arizona; plus FiberMax FM 1911-GLT as a good fit in eastern Arizona.


Article shared from Western Farm Press website.