Irrigation Continuum Reintroduced with Online Guidance, Outreach

The newly released Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, an online manual, addresses the big picture — what do you need to efficiently manage irrigation?The Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, a significant component of the Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM) program, has been fleshed out through proficiency level 1.0 and is online for growers to access in the form of a 54-page manual.

The manual provides comprehensive background materials and step-by-step “how-to” guidance that pulls together numerous sources and reference information necessary to meet a basic level of irrigation efficiency. The Continuum was first presented to California Almond growers at The Almond Conference in December 2015.

Grower Outreach
ABC’s objective is to assist all almond growers in meeting level 1.0 proficiency, and beyond this, to work with growers to help them progress along the Continuum through levels 2.0 and 3.0. Numerous technical experts have contributed to this comprehensive program of irrigation management and scheduling practices in these key areas:

  • Regularly assessing irrigation system performance and efficiency;
  • Estimating orchard water requirements based on evapotranspiration;
  • Determining the amount of applied water;
  • Evaluating soil moisture; and
  • Evaluating plant water status.

“The Irrigation Improvement Continuum focuses on accelerating almond grower adoption of research-based, commercially available and increasingly water-efficient irrigation management scheduling tools,” said ABC’s Spencer Cooper, senior manager, Irrigation and Water Efficiency, at last December’s Almond Conference. “The online e-book goes through the basics of these five categories.”

In addition to the e-book, “Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum 1.0,” a series of one-page articles is available at They include the following topics:

  • Irrigation Scheduling Using Evapotranspiration (ET)
  • When to Begin Irrigating Almonds
  • Almond Salinity Hazard and Leaching Requirements
  • What to Consider Before Investing in Irrigation Technology

One-Stop Source of Information
“None of the information in the Continuum is revolutionary, or wasn’t out there before; most of it was available but hard to find,” said Dr. Larry Schwankl, UC Cooperative Extension emeritus irrigation specialist, at The Almond Conference. “Irrigation water management can be complicated, but taking all of the information and putting it in one place will help you see where it fits together,” he added. “The Continuum provides the information in one easy-to-access location.”

According to Schwankl, the Continuum addresses the big picture: What do you need to manage irrigation water?

  • Know how much water you need to apply and when.
  • Know your irrigation system so you can determine how long (and how often) you need to operate your system.
  • Use the tools in the Continuum to see how you are doing.

Moving Up to 2.0
Once growers have mastered level 1.0, moving up to level 2.0 includes more frequent estimates of water use to align water applications with the seasonally changing orchard water requirements. It also calls for improved irrigation system performance and the use of water measurement devices. Additionally, soil and plant water status is more accurately measured, providing better information to facilitate irrigation scheduling.

Almond Board’s Spencer Cooper is available for assistance at any stage of Continuum adoption. He can be reached by phone at (209) 343-3231 or email for consultation or an on-farm visit.