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Water Management - July 2022 Orchard Report #6

The strict terms of irrigation are defined as watering crops by man-made means such as from dams, canals, pipelines, and sprinklers rather than relying on rainfall alone. Areas with sparse or seasonal rainfall like the central valley of California could not sustain agriculture without irrigation. For thousands of years civilizations have been using irrigation to create more reliable food supplies by allowing farmers to grow crops on a more consistent schedule.

Today modern irrigation systems utilize reservoirs, storage tanks, and wells to supply water for crops. Crops can be watered using several different application methods such as flooding an entire field, directing water to flow between rows of plants, spraying water through sprinklers, and drip hose irrigation. Drip irrigation is considered one of the most efficient water application methods available since it applies water directly to the soil at the roots of the plant. Other methods can waste valuable water by allowing mass absorption deep into the ground where there are no plants to utilize it. Water can also be lost into the air when applied through sprinklers due to evaporation.

At Chinchiolo Farming Co., Inc., water conservation is at the forefront of our irrigation management practices. Utilizing the latest technology in water monitoring and application equipment, we are able to supply the trees with the precise amount of water at exactly the right time. Our modern dual line drip irrigation system efficiently delivers water throughout the orchard directly to the roots of the trees.

Vital elements for tree growth and health are also being delivered to the trees as we irrigate by injecting liquid nutrients directly into the irrigation system. All nutrient applications are precalculated and accurately distributed based on the requirements of the trees as determined from soil and leaf sample analysis. The combination of technology, modern equipment, and sustainable farming practices ensures that crop nutrient and water uptake is maximized while preventing nutrient waste and runoff.

Soil conditions are monitored using a 60” stainless steel moisture probe. This probe makes it possible for us to have “eyes in the ground” as it sends real time data directly back to our smartphones or computers. The information provided by the probe allows us to track soil humidity, temperature and salinity at several different depths. Thus, we are able to determine water available to the crop and the root activity of our trees. In addition, we can view the current weather conditions in the orchard through our own weather station. The station measures air temperature, humidity, and wind speed twenty four hours a day allowing us to make critical decisions on when to apply water and nutrients to the trees.  (Below is an example of the output images from the probe we use)

 

Soil Moisture Probe and Output

Our commitment to invest in the latest technology and modern irrigation equipment at Chinchiolo Farming Co., Inc. is not solely for the benefit of our cherries and walnuts. It is also a commitment to invest in the greater good for all members of our community. Not only are we able to grow and share with our neighbors some of the most nutritious foods. We are also conserving and protecting the two most precious natural resources we have, our water and our environment. The next time you enjoy one of our amazing cherries or walnuts, have confidence that every effort has been made to be exceptional stewards of our land. At Chinchiolo Farming Co., Inc. we fully embrace and realize that soil without water is just dirt to us all.

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