California: Steady As She Goes

John Diener, a San Joaquin Valley grower, is definitely encouraged by the information he’s garnering through precision agriculture, but that doesn’t mean he’s prepared to jump in with both feet.”We’re not going crazy, but we’re moving on it,” he says. “I do think it’s helpful; I just want to get a better feel for exactly what it will do for us.”

Diener is a highly unusual grower even by California standards, where an astounding 350-plus agricultural commodities are produced. Nearly all growers of specialty crops — California produces more than half the nation’s fruit and vegetables — either grow so-called “permanent” crops such as tree fruits, nuts, or grapevines, or seasonal field crops, such as lettuce, cotton, or alfalfa. Diener farms about 4,500 acres, which is a fair amount in the Golden State, where productive farmland generally doesn’t come cheap, even on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley. But it’s his crop mix that really makes Diener unusual: 1,200 acres of tomatoes (for canning), 300 of garlic, 150 of melons, 100 of spinach, 450 of almonds, 300 of grapes, 300 of white corn (for tortillas), 600 of alfalfa, 600 of wheat, and the balance, about 500 to 700 acres, are in cotton, depending on the year.

Diener plans on implementing precision agriculture crop by crop. With the help of Britz Fertilizers, he’s doing yield mapping on cotton and alfalfa. He plans on applying fertilizers to those fields with a variable-rate unit this fall, based on what the yield maps reveal. If that pays off, he will explore employing the technology on other crops.”We’ve got to see some results first, some payback on our investment,” says Diener. “Besides, you have to walk before you can run.”

Diener is also utilizing precision agriculture to reclaim land on his Red Rock Ranch that is plagued with drainage problems which has led to a buildup of salts. Through a project in cooperation with the Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University-Fresno, an instrument is being used that measure the soil’s electrical conductivity, essentially mapping the soil’s salinity. Diener than uses those maps to reclaim the soil through tilling, which involves installing tubes that push the salts out of the soils.

Diener employs several pest control advisers who utilize precision ag, including Tony Oliveira, the operations supervisor for the Five Points, CA office of Western Farm Service. Oliveira keeps five AutoFarm GPS units — mounted on Caterpillar Challengers of various horsepower — busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week from September through November. It is then that the soil beds must be listed, before the winter rains hit the Golden State and make the ground too wet to work.

Oliveira is most excited about the variable-rate units. He used a Mid-Tech Legacy 6000 from Linco Equipment, but is also encouraged by new offerings from Raven Industries and CDS-John Blue. Poor drainage is a critical problem on the valley’s fertile West Side, so growers are using variable-rate technology to apply gypsum to increase water penetration, says Oliveira. “We’re seeing more and more variable-rate technology,” he says. “It’s really picking up momentum.”

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of PrecisionAg Special Reports.

Leave a Reply

Grower Services & Solutions Stories
Farmers Business Network, FBN Procurement
Data ManagementFBN Expanding, Rebranding Procurement; Launching Price Transparency App
December 13, 2016
Farmers Business Network (FBN), the independent farmer-to-farmer network, today announced the launch of major new technologies and services that expand Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower Groups Encourage Implementation Of AgGateway’s ADAPT For Precision Ag
November 2, 2016
A dozen leading U.S. grower organizations are hailing the collaborative efforts that led to the new AgGateway ADAPT framework for Read More
Students Training
Grower Services & SolutionsPrecision Ag Students Learn How To Combine Technology And Customer Service
October 27, 2016
Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, IA, has partnered with AgriSync to help students gain experience and develop superior customer Read More
Corn Field
Grower Services & SolutionsCorn Growers On Big Plots Are Most Tech-Savvy Of Farmers
October 20, 2016
U.S. corn farmers are proving themselves to be quick learners, writes Mario Parker on Bloomberg.com. Growers producing the grain on Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg.com featured image
ProfessionalsWelcome to the Newly Enhanced PrecisionAg.com
December 29, 2016
Talk a quick look around our website and we hope you’ll notice it’s significantly different as we head into 2017 Read More
Ryan Raguse and Matthew Grassi
ProfessionalsIndustry Executives Talk New PrecisionAg Professional Brand
December 19, 2016
EFC Systems President and CEO Ernie Chappell Myriad Mobile Cofounder and Chairman Ryan Raguse Read More
PrecisionAg Professional logo
Industry NewsMeister Media Debuts PrecisionAg Professional
December 13, 2016
Agricultural technology is accelerating, and precision agriculture is gaining renewed interest across cropping systems. At the same time, growers are Read More
NDSU IoT
Sensors/IoTNew Farming Focused IoT Partnership Announced
December 13, 2016
Infiswift, an enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) platform developer, announces a partnership to develop IoT solutions with Acuitus Ag, an Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
Data ManagementFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Latest News
Sonny Perdue
Business ManagementAg Tech CEOs Weigh In On Trump’s Pick For Ag Secr…
January 20, 2017
With President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Sonny Perdue as the new proposed Secretary of Agriculture, it brings a new set Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
EventsRetailers, Consultants Untangle Software Decision Proce…
January 19, 2017
Today, business and agronomy management software is the engine that facilitates a smooth running ag business. The next software decision Read More
Ag Weather Service
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Will Amazon’s Alexa Control the Fami…
January 19, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnerhship Between AgIntegrated, CDMS, SeediQ Wil…
January 18, 2017
AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), CDMS, Inc. and SeediQ announce a partnership to develop, promote, and sell a single-source crop input reference Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Ag Tech GlobalAg Technology Among Focus Areas For Kohli Impact Invest…
January 18, 2017
Tej Kohli, a serial entrepreneur, global businessman and philanthropist, has announced he has earmarked an initial $25 million USD, through his Read More
Terry Griffin
Business ManagementUsing High Tech To Make Farm Decisions
January 17, 2017
Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, challenged farmers to think about how far the technology of Read More
Decisive Farming My Farm Manager mobile app
Ag Tech GlobalLeading Canadian Farming Co-op Brings In New Tech To Bo…
January 17, 2017
Co-op, one of the largest agricultural retailers in Western Canada, is partnering with farm management company Decisive Farming to provide Read More
Business ManagementCNH Names Danford Industry Relations Manager
January 17, 2017
Dan Danford has been named Industry Relations Manager, Precision Solutions and Telematics (PS&T), for CNH Industrial, parent company of agricultural Read More
Australian Harvest
Ag Tech GlobalAustralian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast To 20…
January 13, 2017
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Australian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast to 2020” report to their offering. Read More
Norris planter
Innovation SeriesCompelling Consultant Panel Kicks Off Next Month’s Prec…
January 12, 2017
Jeremy Wilson, Technology Specialist at CropIMS and renowned precision expert, leads a panel of top precision consultants to kick off Read More
Data ManagementProspera Selected for Top 100 Artificial Intelligence R…
January 11, 2017
CB Insights today selected Prospera to the prestigious Artificial Intelligence 100 list (“AI 100”), a select group of emerging private Read More
Business ManagementBREAKING: FAA Considering Less Restrictive Commercial D…
January 11, 2017
FAA is working toward allowing more freedom for drone operators, and at the same time is working with NASA on Read More
DronessenseFly, Agribotix Combine eBee SQ and FarmLens Offeri…
January 11, 2017
Agribotix has partnered with senseFly to offer a new combined solution for professional users. This technology solution combines the top Read More
Sentera software
DronesSentera Announces NDVI Livestream Capabilities for Doub…
January 10, 2017
Sentera today announced the upcoming release of LiveNDVI Video: livestreamed NDVI video via Sentera’s Double 4K sensor. This breakthrough technology Read More
Young Corn Field
Ag Tech GlobalEurocontrol To Commercialize Precision Agricultural Ini…
January 9, 2017
Eurocontrol Technics Group Inc., a Canadian public company specializing in the acquisition, development and commercialization of innovative test and measurement Read More
Corn Field
Data ManagementWaypoint Analytical, Highland Precision Ag Announce Str…
January 9, 2017
Waypoint Analytical (WP), based in Memphis, TN, and Highland Precision Ag (HPA), based in Mulberry, FL, are pleased to announce Read More
Western Canada Wheat field
EventsSixth Annual Precision Ag Summit Set for January 16-17 …
January 4, 2017
The 6th annual Precision Ag Summit will be held Jan. 16-17, at the North Dakota Farmers Union Conference Center in Read More
University of California Merced Professor Stefano Carpin
Hort TechRobots, People Working Together To Save Water, Enhance …
January 3, 2017
A nearly $1 million grant from the USDA is helping University of California researchers refine collaborative robotic technology that could Read More