California drought steps-up need for high-tech solutions
The story focused on Tom Chandler, a fourth-generation Sanger farmer who uses a pressure chamber to measure the amount of water is in the leaves of his almond trees.
"Using the pressure chambers is like having a fuel gauge for your plants," Chandler said.
For the story, Shoen talked to Allan Fulton, the UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water resources advisor in Glenn, Colusa and Shasta counties. Fulton has experience with pressure chambers stretching back more than a decade.
"Understanding what the chamber is trying to tell you helps farmers concentrate water in areas that need it the most," Fulton said. "This means more production while using the same amount of water."
The pressure chamber results show farmers whether the crops need water, or if they can get by without water at the moment.
Ken Shackel, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, learned by conducting research that dry soil doesn't mean the plant is suffering.
"You can save tons of water thanks to the chambers," Shackel said.