In a recent Facebook post I mentioned how lucky we were to have access to an abundance of farm water, never having to worry about running out. For the past few weeks we have done nothing but pump thousands of gallons onto our precious crops. Apples, Strawberries, Pumpkins and Sweet Corn can only go so long without a drink. It varies from year to year. Some years we get perfectly timed rains that do all the watering for us. Some years (like this year) we spend countless hours moving hoses, turning on and off the pump to get water on our fields. Mother Nature can bless us or make it difficult and that is farming.
PROBLEM: LACK OF FARM WATER
As I mentioned we feel very blessed to have so much water. As I read about other parts of our state, country and around the world water has become a scarce resource. Cattle Farmers in the mid-west have not seen rain for months and are having to make the difficult decision to sell their cows. California has started to limit farmers on how much water they can use due to the lack of moisture. This makes farms use less land and thus produce less food. Around the world there are countless pictures of dry land that once was fertile ground used for growing a variety of food. With restricted water farmers have less freedom to grow the food our world needs.
CALL TO ACTION
I hate to sound all doom and gloom but this is a very big problem ourselves and future generations are going to face. The good news is that government and companies realize the problem and are working together on trying to solve this problem. We are very lucky to be involved in this process. As many of you know we have partnered with Snohomish County, 5G Open Innovation Lab and Innov8 ag to bring smart farming to the Snohomish Valley.
SOLUTION: WATER SENSORS
One of the very first pieces of technology we installed was a moisture prob in our apple orchard which basically tells us how much water is in the ground. The prob will tell us when the tree needs water by measuring moisture in the ground every four inches all the way down to 24 inches. Before the installation of these moisture probs we had no clue how much water we should be feeding our trees. We would run our irrigation on our apples for 12 hours every 5-6 days, which now we know is way too much.
Our roots completely saturating and lacking an adequate amount of oxygen. By working with Innov8 ag and experimenting with the probs we are now able to apply 3 hours of irrigation every 3-4 days. This is a savings of over 50% in irrigation. Like I said water is not an issue for us, but what about those areas that are lacking water. Knowing the exact amount of water needed for your crops can be the difference of not thousands of gallons but millions for some of these larger farms. Thus making them more efficient and saving natural resources.
LETS SOLVE THE PROBLEM
Farmers have had to water so much more than any other year, it is one of the driest on record. I am proud to say that we are working much more efficiently in our orchard because we are utilizing information from our moisture probs. If other farms start adopting this technology I believe we can save an abundance of farm water.