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California Agricultural Expo Irrigation-themed

Dust prone fields due to dry weather in TulareWorld Ag Expo 2014
Dust prone fields due to dry weather in TulareWorld Ag Expo 2014
Columbia Press/Christine Kroll

Tulare, CA-- The World Ag Expo 2014 held in Tulare February 11-13th held an extra significance for Valley farmers. This is because California is in the midst of the worst drought in its history.

Road signs along Highway 99 past Goshen read "Solve the Water Crisis" and "No water, No jobs." Other signs include low visibility from dust blowing, faded Eucalyptus trees, and a preternaturally early spring.

Thursday, Feb 13th, was dedicated to an irrigation and farming theme to counter the drought. A Leadership Breakfast was held at the Heritage Complex at 6:30am.

At 9:30am there was an Exhibitor Showcase and Mock Auction (held daily). The ample 60 acre grounds was filled with exhibits by irrigation manufacturers, truckers, dairy suppliers, nutrient growers, farm machinery and equipment, and other ag-related/international companies.

Irrigation talks were located at the Seminars. Today's morning guests were Jacob Christfort of Ranch Systems speaking on irrigation and wireless telemetry; Pat Biddy of Irrigation Matters speaking on leveraging irrigation technology in drought conditions; and Mark Jablonka of Dow Chemical Company speaking about polyethylene tape and tubing for micro-irrigation.

In the afternoon, the guests included Craig Pfaff of Seametrics Flow Meters and Controls speaking on volumetric flowmeter selections; Pivot applications in California; Randy Delenikos of LAKOS Filtration Systems speaking about filters and savings for both sides of the pump; Jim Anhutz of AG H20 speaking on the value of educating your field laborers for drip micro; and Paul McFadden of Toro Micro-Irrigation speaking on drip irrigation.

Effectively designed micro-irrigation systems have never been more important. Micro-irrigation dramatically reduces water pumping quantity and costs, but is tricky to install and time-consuming to maintain.

According to Paul McFadden, specially trained laborers are needed, along with comprehensive and bilingual operation manuals. Certified laborers would receive a practical education to understand line flushing.

Dependable workers are needed for identifying a variety of maintenance problems, whether due to plugging, crushing, root growth, or improper pressures in the micro-irrigation components.

"Getting the right kind of filtration for what you need to do" is not just a matter of good training and resources, but also receiving quality evaluations and design advice from experienced agricultural professionals, McFadden said.

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