Almond Update: Tips for Maximizing Irrigation Efficiency

Brian German Almond Update, News from our Sponsors

Irrigation efficiency becomes even more important in times of drought and increasing costs of other inputs. Senior Manager of Field Outreach and Education for the Almond Board of California, Tom Devol explained that optimizing irrigation systems begins at the pump. Having a distribution uniformity test done can help identify issues that need addressing and allow producers to develop a maintenance plan. Devol highlighted several considerations growers and orchard managers should keep in mind when looking at their irrigation systems.

Irrigation efficiency

“Are the filters clean? Do you need to clean the screens? The sand in the filters if you have sand media, does that sand need to be replaced so it’s running at its maximum performance to clean the system? Because it really starts there,” said Devol. “Are your air vents working correctly? Pressure sensors? Your pressure gauges at the pump; if you use differential pressure to drive your pump flushing, are those gauges both working well?”

Flushing an entire system is critical for clearing out debris and preventing it from being pushed further down through a drip line. Devol suggests running water thoroughly to ensure that any collection of debris is adequately flushed. Establishing an effective maintenance schedule is another component of maintaining optimal irrigation efficiency.

When leaks are identified in the system, it is important to address them quickly with a proper fix. Devol notes that couplers are more effective than goof plugs, as good plugs can end up spraying more water than the dripper actually drops. Maintaining an effective and uniform irrigation system can be challenging, but those efforts become even more valuable in challenging water years.

“The first one for the GTRA section is going to be on the transportation survey which will be kind of a hot topic of what’s going on with the shipping industry and all the disruptions we’re seeing there. Then an update on the new China facility registration that went into effect January 1,” Hillman noted. “Each one of these will have an update on stuff that you’re hearing regularly in the news. It will be a good way for industry members to stay up to date with some of those issues, bi-weekly, which is kind of nice.”

“Losing nutrients because you have to over irrigate to overcome poor uniformity in the system, it’s just not the year to do that. We don’t want to do that any year, but this year it’s even more important,” Devol explained. “With the cost of materials and inputs and the pricing being where it’s at, we really want to make sure we’re maximizing all the water we use.”

Listen to Devol’s interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West