- Author: Alison L Kent
An agronomic crops Field Day for local growers was held at Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC) on April 17. Participants were given a tour of the Center. In addition to seeing the alfalfa, sudangrass and desert winter row crops currently in the ground, participants heard from many researchers, including Khaled Bali about the water use efficiency research that is being carried out at the REC. The research has found that it is possible to save up to 15% of water through irrigation timing, subsurface drip irrigation and more precise delivery of water.
Given that “every drop of Colorado River water has been used three times before it arrives in the Imperial Valley,” according to Bali, and that those drops of water bring lots of salt in them, applying 6.5 to 7 acre-feet of water to an alfalfa field also puts about 7 to 8 tons of salt into the ground. Researchers at DREC are looking into alfalfa varieties with a higher tolerance for salt, but also into olive cultivation. Olives have a high tolerance for salinity, and this has the potential to transform the Imperial Valley agricultural landscape in the future.