A new incubator farm in Modesto established by Yara North America will serve as a testing ground for innovation in the area of increasing efficiency in cropping systems. The farm is the first of its kind for Yara in California, with a similar operation running in Alabama looking at corn, cotton, and soybeans. The incubator farms are designed to help expand the understanding of the relationship between nutrition, water, soil, environment, and technology.
“The incubator farm is basically a manifestation of our ‘My Almonds’ crop program and so at its core, it’s really a research facility,” said Devin Clarke, Crop Manager with Permanent Crops for Yara North America. “What we’re looking to do here is implement long-term field-scale trials to be able to gain positive insights to the challenges that growers, and consultants, and the industry as a whole faces.”
The multiple levels of data that will be gathered through the operation will assist in the future development of new agronomic strategies. The farm is comprised of 40 acres of fertigated and established almonds, as well as another 40 acres of irrigated and established walnuts. The team working on the farm will be looking at something that Clarke referred to as “ground-truthing,” as a means of field-testing approaches that growers may be able to implement.
“It is a matter of being able to identify our best management practices for nutrient use efficiency, that is the overarching goal,” said Clarke. “We want to make sure that what we are doing, we are doing responsibly, but we are also able to maximize grower return on investment at the end of the day.”
The soil fertility and crop nutrient management research is being done with collaboration from partners, customers, and various technology providers to provide benefits for the agricultural industry overall. “We want to get the feedback from the industry, work with the important different sections of the industry itself, to be able to make sure that we are providing the most value to each one of those portions of the industry,” said Clarke.
Listen to Clarke’s interview below.