Sustainably Speaking — Technology Links Almond Grower with Sustainable Farming
When Greg Wegis fires up his iPad from the conference room of Wegis & Young, he has more than 2,000 acres of almonds in the southern San Joaquin Valley at his fingertips.
The fourth-generation Kern County family farming operation grows more than 3,000 acres of almonds, pistachios, cherries and tomatoes, and also custom-manages another 16,000 acres of alfalfa and row crops from Blythe to Lake Isabella.
Technology allows him to stay on top of what is happening in the field, and also helps members of the family communicate more efficiently with each other and their work force.
Wegis last year participated in the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP), joining other almond growers in doing a self-assessment of sustainable practices in their almond-growing operations. He was encouraged to learn that many of the practices and technologies his company has implemented are among the practices that the sustainability modules discuss.
"We are making a lot of improvements and using a lot of technology to maximize the efficient use of our inputs and minimize waste," Wegis said. "And I think in the overall sustainability picture, that is what everybody is after."
Wegis uses his iPad to track and monitor irrigation and other inputs through a network of 22 monitoring stations throughout his almond-farming operation. He can monitor microsprinkler sets and soil moisture status down to 60 inches on every individual almond block.
Wegis & Young has also partnered with a proprietary software program company called Redtrac, which allows them to manage and track all its hardware, tractors and implements from an iPad, laptop or cell phone. From his iPad, Wegis can generate reports on hourly usage and locations for each piece of equipment, and receives alerts when something goes not according to plan.
"My irrigation foreman and I meet once a week to go through the sites and talk about evapotranspiration rates, moisture levels, what they are, what we want them to be and what we want them to do. I'm fortunate that my foreman sees the value of technology and he likes to use it," Wegis said.
For more information and to sign up for an upcoming CASP workshop, go to AlmondBoard.com/Growers/Sustainability or phone Almond Board at (209) 343-3230.