Yara executives were recently in California to personally see the progress being made in the field trials of their water sensing technology in almond orchards. The Yara Water Solution can provide real-time information to growers on the specific water needs of their trees.
“It’s really to optimize the use of water so that you get more crop per drop,” Executive Vice President of Crop Nutrition for Yara International Terje Knutsen said, “driving again that profitability for the farmer in a sustainable way.”
The on-leaf sensor collects information from magnetic leaf clamps that are wired to the sending units fastened to the tree. The clamps measure turgor pressure to provide direct information on when and where water is needed. The field trials have indicated a reduction of water use by up to 30 percent and an increase in yields of up to 15 percent. Using water more efficiently can also reduce fertilizer and pesticide use.
The Yara Water Solution originally came to California for trials in citrus groves. After a few years of development, the technology has now been calibrated to provide the same function in almond orchards. “California is very important for us and it has been for a long period of time…so it’s important for us as well to be out here and see it first hand and learn,” said Knutsen.
The almond industry’s adoption of other sustainable production methods and ag technologies played a role in the decision to apply the technology to almond trees. “It’s really advanced agriculture both in terms of how you run the farms here, but also how you treat the crops,” said Senior Vice President of Yara North America Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand. “In almonds its really inspiring how its grown both in terms of diversity in where its used, but also geographically.”
The water sensing technology is still in the development stage with a goal of making it commercially available for citrus in 2019 and for almonds and grapes soon after.