Water woes are probably not going to go away, so readup on how to best manage water at this new blog.
- Author: Rachael Long
Guest post from Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Yolo County
The Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (YCFC) is an agency that supplies water to farmers in northern California. The agency is at the forefront of innovative efforts aimed at banking groundwater by diverting flood waters into their unlined canals. This gives flood waters time to infiltrate soils and recharge groundwater.
Using a water right permit that they recently obtained from California's State Water Resources Control Board, flood waters from recent storms are being captured from Cache Creek as it enters the Sacramento Valley. YCFC recently opened their lateral gates, allowing the flood waters to...
Groundwater wells can fail in many ways. Sometimes the water table sinks below the level of the well. Sometimes minerals cause buildup in well systems. And, sometimes, wells get clogged with lots and lots of microbes.
Microbes can form large, jelly-like mats that lead to well failure from what is known as biofouling. Biofouled wells can be both expensive and technically challenging to repair. There are even times that repair is not possible and replacement is the only option. In Washington State, for example, researchers have encountered well pipes completely clogged by mats of bacteria....
California's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region, commonly referred to simply as the Delta, is often described as a unique part of the world. Although it is located between two big urban centers – the greater Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas – the Delta can feel like another world altogether.
This is something Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, a farm advisor with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, knows well. She comes from a sixth-generation farming family in San Joaquin County and, after accepting her position several years ago, was happy to return “home”...
The California drought has shined a spotlight on stories of people and communities living without water. Unfortunately, lack of access to clean and affordable water is not a new issue. Water security has been an enduring challenge across the state in wet and dry years alike, particularly for disadvantaged communities. Trying to meet concerns about water availability and affordability with pragmatic action is where things get both complicated and interesting.
One approach that the state has invested a great deal in exploring is known as integrated regional water management. While it is a complex topic, the basic idea is that there are multiple needs for water throughout the...
Street-side stormwater facilities are turning runoff once seen as a nuisance into a resource. Also known as bioretention areas, rain gardens, and bioswales, these small stormwater facilities provide a decentralized approach to alleviating peak stormwater runoff and subsequent flood damages. These are particularly critical functions in cities like San Francisco where the storm and sanitary sewer systems are combined because they help managers to prevent dreaded “combined sewer overflow” events. As a bonus, stormwater facilities have also proved useful in promoting groundwater recharge and filtering pollutants as water percolates through soils.
While street-side facilities are effective in helping to manage...
As fruit gets heavier and heavier on a tree, does the tree use more water? Or is it sensitive to more water stress? It's not clear if there is a difference. We've all seen a lemon tree sigh in relief after the crops been pulled off. And avocado trees last summer that got hit by the Santa Ana seemed to be more affected the more fruit they had. In fact, about two weeks after the wind blew, many trees with a heavy fruit load showed clear signs of salt burn or leaf blight.
Now according to work done on olive, the trees actually need more water to avoid stress. In an Israeli study they measured water use by olive trees with and without fruit and found that there was significant more water use when fruit was present.
This is a lot more than we usually allow for in our irrigation scheduling. Often we don't adjust at all for fruit load. As fruit sizes most growers do recognize this as a period when stress might cause fruit drop and pay more attention to the trees, but may not alter the irrigation cycle.
Fruit have stomata just like leaves do, so they do lose water. Losing too much water leads to flaccid fruit and in the case of avocado easy fruit dehydration and drop. So we know it's a sensitive period, but maybe we need to be irrigating more frequently. That's where soil moisture measuring devices help adjust the schedule. If they are using more water, then irrigate more frequently.
We'll be doing some work over the next few years to verify this. Stay tuned.
At a recent meeting in Modesto covering drought and how it is being dealt with around the world, there was an interesting presentation by some Israeli researchers. They looked at the use of recycled water from sewage treatment plants and the use of desalinated water from the Mediterranean. The recycled water had much of the original mineral nutrients, but had been treated for microorganisms. They wanted to know how much of the nutrients could be accounted in the fertilizer balance applied to apple, pear and nectarine orchards. Their conclusion that after one year, there was a significant contribution and that leaf analysis had not changed, not yields after applying the effluent. This was only for one year, but I could imagine that after many years there would be a significant impact.
They also looked at desal water, and found that the process removed most minerals except for boron. They actually found that plants irrigated with this water ended up with calcium and magnesium deficiencies and more boron toxicity. The reverse osmosis membranes used in this case were not very effective at removing boron. In the case of many waters north of Los Angeles there are often high levels of boron in the water, and using RO water might accentuate the problem.
RO water also is usually too pure and the lack of salt causes soil to deflocculate - lose structure. Yes, you need some salt to have a healthy soil.
Read more about this trial at:
Bitter Pit in Apple caused by low Calcium
It ain't over yet, and this last week we had a wonderful 2 day meeting with folks who have dealt with drought in many different ways. Here are presentations made by people from Israel, Australia and California. Soon the actual videos will be available, but now see the powerpoints.
The grower panels are wonderful, but are not uploaded at this point
DAY I: UNDERSTANDING IRRIGATION WATER MANAGEMENT
Session I: California Response to Drought
9:15am // Overview of California Drought Response
Session II: Technology of Water Management
9:45am // Soil Water Sensing
11:00am // Salinity Measurement
12:00pm // Precision Water and Fertility Management During Deficit Irrigation
Session III: Alternative Water Supplies
2:00pm // Effects of Irrigation With Poor Quality Water on the Soil - California Experience
3:00pm // The Challenge of Sustainable Irrigation with Water High in Salts: Lessons from Dates, Olives and Grapevines
Session IV: Water Management Strategies During Drought
Day II: WATER MANAGEMENT FOR INDIVIDUAL CROPS & GROWER EXPERIENCES
Session V: Technology Demonstrations
8:30am // Using the Pressure Chamber for Drought Mangagement Decisions
9:00am // Irrigation System Evaluation
9:30am // Salinity Mapping for Water Management
Session VI: Conncurrent Breakout Groups
10:30am // Citrus - Israeli Experience: Long Term Effects of Deficit Irrigation, Salinity, and Rootstocks on Orchard Productivity
10:30// Almond Irrigation, the Israeli Experience
11:15am // Grapes - Wine Grapes Irrigation - Coastal Vineyards
11:15am // Deciduous Nut Crops - Almond Irrigation - Israeli Experience
1:00pm // Avocado - Israeli Experience
1:00pm // Grapes - Wine Grapes Irrigation: San Joaqin Valley
1:45 // Subtropical Crops - California Experience
2:00pm // Deciduous Nut Crops - Walnut Irrigation
2:30pm // Grower Panels
3:15pm // Concluding Remarks
Transpiration is essentially a function of the amount of leaves present. With no leaves, there is no transpiration and no water use. The extreme case is tree removal. If canopies are pruned there is reduced water use. The more canopy reduction, the more transpiration reduction. Most citrus produces terminal flowers, so there is also a reduction in yield, but there is also typically an increase in fruit size as competitive fruit growing points are removed. There is a balance between yield reduction and tree water use, but typically a 25% canopy reduction results in a 25% decrease in tree water use (Romero, 2006).
The severity of the drought will determine how drastic the canopy should be trimmed. The trees can be skeletonized so that only the main structural branches are left. The tree is whitewashed to prevent sunburn and the water is turned off. As the tree gradually leafs out, the water is gradually reapplied in small amounts. It's important to check soil moisture to make sure the tree do not get too much or too little water. The trees if pruned in the winter will often flower a year later in the spring, but normal production will often take three years for the trees to recover their previous yields.
Skeletonizing should first be practiced on orchards that are the poorest producing. In those areas that get too much wind and have lots of wind scarring or elevated water use, those areas that are most prone to frost damage, those areas that have been always problematic, such as fruit theft. In areas that are healthy and a new variety has been contemplated, this is the time to topwork and replace that old variety. In areas that have been poor producing from disease, this is the time to get rid of those trees.
Canopy sprays of kaolinite clay have shown some promise in reducing transpiration with negligible yield reduction (Skewes, 2013; Wright, 2000). If these are used, they should be done under the advisement of the packing house to make sure the clay can be removed in the packing house.
With a reduced canopy, there are often other benefits besides water reduction. There is better spray coverage for pest control. There is also reduced fertilizer use. New growth is normally coming from nutrients that are now being mined by a large root system and fertilizer applications can be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether for a year until fruit set recommences.
Kerns, D. and G. Wright. 2000. Protective and Yield Enhancement qualities of yield of kaolin on lemon. In: Eds. G. Wright and D. Kilby, AZ1178: "2000 Citrus and Deciduous Fruit and Nut Research Report," College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona. http://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1178_3.pdf
Skewes, M. 2013 Citrus Drought Survival and Recovery Trial. HAL Project Number CT08014 (16/12/2013). SARDI. http://pir.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/238414/SARDI-Citrus-Drought-Survival-Recovery-Trial.pdf
Navel trees skelotinized and topworked, ready for rain and more profits in the future.