The Western U.S. and Northern Mexico are experiencing their driest period in at least 1,200 years, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. With the spring budding season in full swing, orchard farmers have some tough decisions to make about how to manage their scarce water resources through the coming months.
From orchard flooding to micro-irrigation
Some progress has been made in cutting back water use when irrigating nut orchards in the West and Southwestern regions, but much more needs to occur in this drastic scenario. Historically, at the turn of this century, nut tree growers irrigated by flooding, which led to considerable criticism as droughts reduced California’s water supply. By making changes in how they irrigate, almond growers have reduced water consumption by 30% over the past 20 years, mainly by converting to drip or micro-irrigation. However, these methods make it harder to push moisture down past the effective root zone for deep rooting nut trees, which is necessary to leech salts away from the roots. Particularly for almond trees, higher salinity past a certain threshold results in progressively smaller harvests. Even so, the Almond Board of California’s 2025 Goals Roadmap, released in December 2019, called for another 20% reduction in water consumption. As growers have already converted to efficient irrigation systems, options are fewer. One possibility involves better control over soil moisture, as identified in the ABC’s Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum Level 3.
Improve nut tree yields by timing nutrients and water at key times
For the past decade, tree nut and fruit farmers in water-constrained California and throughout the world have been investing in ways to conserve precious water resources by improving efficiency with new methods of irrigation and technology to monitor water uptake at the full-depth of the tree’s roots. AquaSpy intelligent crop-specific root monitoring technology can continuously monitor trees such as apple, pear, pistachio, pecan, walnut, or almond over single or multi-year crop production and contribute up to 40% increased yield while further increasing water efficiency.
What’s unique about AquaSpy’s approach to precision irrigation
AquaSpy looks layer by layer into the soil and can see what’s occurring at the active root zone. This insight is critical for deep rooted trees which need to provide water where and when it’s needed most.
Patented multi-sensor probes measure soil moisture, salinity, temperature and root zone activity independently at 4-inch intervals all the way down to 48 inches. Proprietary algorithms give yield-optimizing insights for ideal irrigation at critical growth stages such as bud development or fruiting that impact the outcome of nut tree yields. The powerful AgSpy system provides analysis and actionable insights so growers can easily understand what is going on without having to visit the orchard.
Nut tree irrigation decisions made simple
AquaSpy delivers easy to read gauges and charts that show recent moisture events and how well the trees are consuming available moisture at each layer. Simply stay inside the green band to conserve resources and optimize yield.