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IWM-Micro Spray and Drip Irrigation

We’re farming about 400 acres—two thirds is
peaches and one third is grapes. Probably 80% of the acreage is in some form of
mini-sprinklers or drip. By far and away we’re using mini-sprinklers. And, we’re seeing more consistent production—
increased production, and more consistent
0:00:35.066,0:00:35.000 growth across the field. Due to the uniformity of
the water application. The mini-sprinkler systems are using water
from the Colorado River. And, requires a pretty good filtration due to the
organic matter, and sand, and sediment in the river. Usually, there’s a pre-filter before the pump
that catches the bigger organic matter. And then we are relying on different filters after the pump
to keep the water clean enough. The filtration has to be matched to the size of the sprinkler
heads to avoid problems with plugging the
0:01:12.066,0:01:12.000 sprinklers. On the maintenance side, the low
volume sprinkler systems do require regular maintenance. Normally when we do irrigation,
we’ll have somebody go through and check the sprinkler heads for plugging. The filters at
the pumps have to be checked depending on the condition of the river water. A, several times
a day.
0:01:34.066,0:01:34.033 A lot of that is automated on the backwashing
and the cleaning of the filters. So, we have controllers that will either be
activated by pressure or by a time clock. But that still requires monitoring to see that
they’re functioning properly. So, at the time of irrigation we have somebody
go through and check the nozzles for plugging. There can be damage from pickers stepping on
sprinkler heads and knocking them over. We’ve
0:02:07.033,0:02:07.000 had some animal damage. It’s very rare, but
they will chew on lines sometimes to get water. Periodically, say every couple of months, it’s
necessary to go through and open the ends of the hose lines, to remove the buildup of silt that
accumulates. Even though we have filters, there’s still a lot of stuff that stays in solution in
the river water and will accumulate in the hose lines. So, that has to be checked and the ends
of the lines periodically flushed. Well, we can vary the length of the irrigation,
and we’re doing that. Normally running things 24 hours in the early
season to fill the soil profile with moisture. And then during mid-season–July and August–
due to the stage the fruit development’s at we’re reducing sprinkler times to 12 hours, or
reducing the number of irrigations. Lengthening the frequency. We have some
control over the growth of the trees that way—as well as canopy
management. And, then once the fruit starts to matures and change color, we’re going to 24
hour irrigations at more regular intervals, as the fruit finishes. Leading up to picking. We
are converting as much as we can to the mini-sprinklers on the
peaches and the grapes as well. Mainly because of the uniformity of growth in the
orchard and increased yields that we’re seeing. We have some blocks where we’ve converted
from furrows to mini-sprinklers and we’ve had a noticeable increase in the
production of fruit from those situations.

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