Irrigation Improvement Continuum
Limited water supplies — with or without the California drought — are a reality. Almond Board of California has invested heavily in the area of water irrigation strategies and technologies that conserve water while optimizing almond production and tree health, as well as in ways to protect ground-and surface-water from potential runoff or leaching of grower inputs.
One of these investments is the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum; a comprehensive manual of irrigation management and scheduling practices. Recognizing that growers may be operating at different stages of irrigation efficiency, the Continuum provides information at three proficiency levels (1.0, 2.0 and 3.0), each covering the following concepts and how to execute and effectively integrate them:
- Measuring irrigation system performance and efficiency
- Estimating orchard water requirements based on evapotranspiration
- Determining the water applied
- Evaluating soil moisture
- Evaluating plant water status
The Irrigation Continuum was developed in partnership with the many trusted and respected technical experts and resources available, such as University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension. Please email Spencer Cooper, for an in-the-orchard visit or phone consultation. Spencer's support allows for system-specific recommendations to increase the "crop per drop" on an orchard-by-orchard basis.
The Continuum Level 1.0 outlines irrigation management practices that are within reach for all California Almond growers. It is available as a downloadable PDF and downloadable EPUB to read on a digital reader app through your tablet or smart phone.
In addition to the manual, there are one page summary documents from sections within the manual.
- Determining When to Begin Irrigation
- Irrigation Scheduling Using Evapotranspiration (ET)
- Almond Salinity Hazard and Leaching Requirements
- What to Consider Before Investing in Irrigation Technology
- Using a Flow Meter to Determine the Irrigation System Application Rate
- Determining Your Application Rate: Impact Sprinkler Irrigation
- Determining Your Application Rate: Micro-Irrigation Systems
- Determining Your Applied Water: Surface Irrigation (Furrow and Border Strip)
Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum 2.0 and 3.0
While the above tools are available now, development of the Continuum continues with respected irrigation experts to build out levels 2.0 and 3.0.
The Continuum Level 2.0 consists of more intermediate level practices and Level 3.0 address practices at more sophisticated levels to attain even more “crop per drop.” As Level 2.0 and 3.0 manuals are developed, they will be published on this web page. If you would like a notification when the new manuals are published, please submit your email address and specify 2.0 and/or 3.0.
Why is Irrigation Improvement a Priority?
In 2015, Almond Board of California’s (ABC) Board of Directors adopted Water Management and Efficiency as one of four key components of the Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM) program. ABC has long been a research-based organization and will continue to support traditional research and sustainability initiatives, but is now placing greater emphasis on the innovative almond farming practices that will be required to meet the future needs of the California almond industry, as well as the consumer, the community and the planet.
The Water Management and Efficiency initiative focuses on accelerating almond grower transition and adoption of research based, commercially available, and increasingly water efficient irrigation management and scheduling tools.
The Irrigation Calculator supports the practices in the Irrigation Continuum and generates irrigation run time schedules that advise the amount and timing of irrigations based on local evapotranspiration and information about your individual orchard and irrigation system. Linked to your nearest CIMIS station, this tool automatically integrates current weather information, allowing you to better calculate your orchard’s irrigation water requirement. The tool can be accessed on the California Almond Sustainability Program website and is referenced throughout Almond Irrigation Continuum 1.0.
The scheduling tool stores data by orchard block, making updates easy as information changes. It’s also completely private — information is not shared with anyone. Data entered into the Irrigation Calculator can be saved and updated as necessary. All almond growers can use the Calculator to create irrigation schedules, but must be participants in the California Almond Sustainability Program for the data storage aspect, which saves the need to reenter all the data when making revisions during the growing season. Data can be printed or displayed as a PDF file, or exported into a database.
Hullsplit Strategic Deficit Irrigation
Almond trees can tolerate moderate drought stress from the completion of kernel fill to 90% hullsplit without risk of crop loss or long-term yield effects. Moderate water stress at this time provides three additional benefits: 1) lower potential for hull rot; 2) a more uniform hullsplit, leading to an earlier harvest, when crop damage from rainfall is less likely; and 3) an earlier harvest, all of which can help minimize crop exposure to late-season navel orangeworm flights and potential aflatoxin contamination.