“A single lawn sprinkler can use as much water as taking a shower,” Ingels said. “Many people don't even know where their (sprinkler) controller is. They are often hidden behind boxes or bicycles in the garage.”
The press conference was held jointly by the California Department of Water Resources, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis. The speakers noted that every drop of water saved by not watering already moist lawns will ensure there's more water when warmer months arrive. As part of the event, Ingels demonstrated a simple test to determine lawn moisture.
He easily pushed a flat-head screwdriver into the lawn up to its handle, indicating the soil beneath the surface is moist. If it doesn't sink in all the way or needs pressure, the lawn may need water.
In the coming months, there are many more strategies that can be employed to make the most efficient use of water placed on landscapes, which represents more than half of home water use.
- Determine your home sprinklers' output by conducting a catch can test
- Program the controller to deliver water in short increments broken up with time for the water to soak into the ground
- Use drip irrigation for plants and trees
- Cover the soil with mulch to reduce evaporation from the soil surface
Read more here: Conserve water with proven landscape irrigation strategies
Additional home and ag water conservation resources are available from the UC California Institute for Water Resources, http://ucanr.edu/drought.
Many of these farmers use groundwater to irrigate their orchards, and groundwater in the Sacramento Valley is in pretty good shape, said Joe Connell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and county director in Butte County.
If groundwater levels drop, growers will be pumping from farther down. So far, things look like they will be OK for orchard crops, Connell said. The supply of bees was adequate and before the rains, there was time for bees to pollinate.
The outlook isn't quite as rosy for rice farmers in the area, Randall "Cass" Mutters, UCCE advisor in Butte County, told the reporter.
"The buzz is that everyone is waiting on what the allotment will be," Mutters said. "No one will know until April 1."
However, recent rains were just a dribble compared to normal for this time of year. The Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation have said surface water deliveries will be very low or nonexistent for growers.
The article concluded with a link to the UC California Institute for Water Resources drought page and a list of the resources available there to farmers, homeowners and the media.
At the Alfalfa and Forage Meeting held at the Kearney Agricultural Center in September, we provided a demonstration of the co-existence of Roundup Ready® (RR) and conventional alfalfa hay fields. The demonstration took place between two hay fields – one of them RR and the other conventional – that were in their third year of production and separated only by a one-lane dirt road. The demonstration showed what is meant by “co-existence”; the RR trait has not transferred to the adjacent conventional hay field or to a nearby organic hay field. All of the fields are co-existing in close proximity, and the RR trait is only found in the RR field. We used commercially-available test strips that detect the CP4 EPSPS protein unique to RR alfalfa to confirm that transfer had not occurred. The test strips are reported to detect the presence of the protein in a hay sample that contains at least five percent RR hay by weight.
Roundup Ready® alfalfa became commercially available in 2005. The genetically-engineered RR trait allowed alfalfa to tolerate the broad-spectrum, post-emergence herbicide, glyphosate. A lawsuit in 2007, however, stopped any further planting. It was not until January 2011 that RR alfalfa was granted non-regulated status and planting resumed.
There are concerns among growers, marketers, and the general public about the ability of RR and conventional alfalfa to co-exist. Key among the concerns is the possibility for the RR trait to transfer by pollen to conventional alfalfa, known as adventitious presence (AP). While transfer of the RR trait has been measured between alfalfa fields grown for seed production (the likelihood depending on the distance between fields), it is largely prevented between fields grown for hay due to management barriers to AP and plant and pollinator biology. The primary management barrier is that hay is generally cut well before 10% flowering, so seed is rarely allowed to form, let alone mature. Biological limitations that make the transfer of the RR trait to conventional hay highly unlikely include the necessity of simultaneous flowering between fields, the presence of pollinators, successful pollen movement via a pollinator to a receptive flower (known as cross-pollination), successful fertilization resulting in viable seed, and viable seed falling to the ground and having the proper conditions for germination and survival. Any grower who has ever tried seeding alfalfa into an existing alfalfa stand knows how difficult it can be to establish new alfalfa plants in an old stand due to competition and autotoxicity. Nevertheless, despite the odds, it is courteous and wise to employ practices that allow the co-existence of RR and conventional alfalfa. The following are advised practices (Putnam, 2006).
- Grow certified seed.
- Understand the potential for the RR trait to be transferred. Cross-pollination is required in seed production but not in forage production.
- Understand the management and biological limitations (described above) to the RR trait being transferred.
- Control nearby feral alfalfa, which is not harvested for hay, could flower, and then be receptive to RR pollen.
- Be aware of neighboring non-genetically engineered (GE) hay.
- Prevent the mixing of hay lots or carry-over bales in balers between RR and conventional fields.
- Test for GE traits.
- Understand tolerances, particularly as they relate to markets.
The majority of the alfalfa market is not sensitive to GE products; nevertheless, test kits are a tool that may be used when customers are sensitive to GE crops. The availability of these strips allows producers and sellers of hay to be product-based for niche domestic and export markets. A couple of products currently on the market that may be used to detect the presence of RR alfalfa in hay, seed, or fresh leaf tissue are Agdia® ImmunoStrip® STX 74000 and Envirologix™ QuickStix™ Kit. Information and pricing is available from the company websites. If you discover another manufacturer's product, be sure to verify that the product is validated for alfalfa; some products are validated for crops like corn and soybeans but not for alfalfa. (The information on products and practices is for educational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the University of California.)
I recently traveled to the Malaga area of Spain where there is quite a bit of new planting going on. The industry celebrated its industry in 2002 with the World Avocado Congress and we saw a considerable expansion of the industry then and more has occurred since then. More than 22,000 acres are in the ground. Much of the plantings are occurring on almond and olive ground which have become less profitable. Average grower acreage is similar to that of California's at about six acres per grower.
Production is along the southern coast of Andalucia and Valencia with some produced in the Canary Islands. Although a “Mediterranean” climate, it is both hotter and more humid on average than the California production area. Typically ‘Hass' is harvested two months earlier there than here. Scarcity of water in some areas, although in the Malaga area there are a series of dams and water is not limiting. Labor cost and availability are similar to that in California. Also, unlike California, the fruit snap harvested and any stems remaining are clipped at the packing house. This more efficient harvest system is also used in Australia. A discussion of the method is described in the November 2002, AvoResearch Vol 2, Issue 2.
The industry produces 150 M pounds, the bulk of which goes to France and Germany where they are willing to pay good prices for quality fruit. It is a short drive to Paris and Berlin and fruit arrives in good condition. The bulk of this export market is in France and three export companies dominate this export. Per capita consumption in Spain is only about one pound per year, 3.5 pounds in France and now the US is about 4.5 pounds.
There are over 12 nurseries supplying trees to the industry, but three dominate. As here, growers are looking at high density plantings at as close as six feet apart, in row. They are using the standard varieties , such as ‘Reed', ‘Lamb Hass', ‘Fuerte', ‘Zutano', ‘Bacon', ‘Pinkerton' and ‘Hass', but they are looking at newer varieties, such as ‘Carmen' and ‘Mendez'. There is still a good market for greenskins. They also have several rootstocks that we don't have, such as ‘Atkinson' used in calcareous soil and ‘Albaida' used in situations of Rosellinia fungus. This is a fungus similar to oak root fungus which they don't have as much as we do. Recently a long term trial was initiated evaluating over 10 scion varieties on five rootstocks, including ‘Dusa' which is one of the most popular rootstocks now.
There is Phytophthora root rot there, but it is not as extensive as in our industry. They also don't seem to have much of a problem with black streak, leaf blight, bacterial canker, and stem blight. These are diseases associated with poor water management and poor water quality. Some of the water quality reports I saw were really quite good compared to many of our waters. They do have a problem with Persea Mite which arrived there in 2005. It still is not under good biological control, but I saw an organic orchard that didn't spray, and the damage was acceptable. So something is finally kicking in.
Phytophthora disease control is done as here with mulches and phosphonates. One of the major sources of mulch was shells from the almond industry. With the eclipse of the almond industry, the shells have become very expensive and are going into other products. They are developing a yardwaste collection system, but it is not as close to the avocado orchards as to make it a cheap source.
During a drought, salts that would normally be leached out by rainfall stay on the surface. Growers are forced to irrigate with groundwater to wash salt out of the plants' rootzone.
Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Santa Cruz County, told AgAlert, a publication of the California Farm Bureau Federation, that in Northern California many strawberry and cane berry fields are being affected. The result will be loss in yield.
In a blog post Bolda wrote in December titled A tsunami of salt is on the way, he said strawberry growers across the state need to keep running that water until we get some rain.
"There is so much salt building up in these soils right now," Bolda said more than two months ago.
The most serious damage, the Californian reported, is occurring in the Oxnard area and Choachella Valley.