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
John-Deere-and-Farm-Dog
Grower Services & SolutionsFarm Dog Strengthens its Integration with John Deere Operations Center
July 24, 2017
Farm Dog, the leading pest and disease management platform for growers and agronomists, has completed the second stage of its Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsVantage South Atlantic Announces Mid-South Expansion
July 10, 2017
Vantage South Atlantic announced that it has joined Trimble Agriculture’s global network of independent Vantage partners to provide farmers, advisors, Read More
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Grower Services & SolutionsWinField Adds AkerScout App to Answer Tech
June 27, 2017
As farmers and retailers, we know it’s important to have the latest news and insights about tools that can make Read More
Data ManagementClimate Adds Irrigation Data Analytics via HydroBio Acquisition, Will Expand to Europe in 2017
May 9, 2017
Today, The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of HydroBio, an agriculture software company based in Read More
Trending Articles
Yield Data Image
Data ManagementYield Data: More Than a Pretty Picture
July 13, 2017
It is mid-July, which, for the Australian cotton industry, means that picking is still going on for some growers. A Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
ProfessionalsPatience Needed: Lessons for Getting New Tech onto the Farm
July 6, 2017
A popular joke within the tech industry was trotted out at GAI AgTech Week in Boston, MA, speaking volumes about Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Quantix Drone Farmer
DronesTop 10 Most Intriguing Technologies in Agriculture
June 3, 2017
This may be a bit of stating the obvious here, but we’ll throw it out there anyways: as much as Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
Latest News
Resistant-weeds-in-Brazil
InternationalUsing Precision Agriculture to Control Herbicide-Resist…
July 24, 2017
The occurrence of weeds in agricultural fields of grain and fiber production has caused losses to farmers for a long Read More
John-Deere-and-Farm-Dog
Grower Services & SolutionsFarm Dog Strengthens its Integration with John Deere Op…
July 24, 2017
Farm Dog, the leading pest and disease management platform for growers and agronomists, has completed the second stage of its Read More
Industry NewsLindsay Corp. Names Dow’s Timothy Hassinger New C…
July 19, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
InfoAg 2015
Events2017 Awards of Excellence Winners Announced
July 18, 2017
PrecisionAg Institute is pleased to announce its Awards of Excellence winners for 2017. Honorees of this year’s prestigious award are Read More
Interseeding Cover Crops
ProfessionalsA 3-Step Approach to Interseeding Cover Crops
July 18, 2017
As growers continue to search for opportunities to create healthier soils and increase yields, more trusted advisors and farmers are Read More
Rod Weimer and Paul Schrimpf
Excellence AwardsPast Recipients Of The PrecisionAg Awards Of Excellence
July 18, 2017
Since 2007, the PrecisionAg Insititute has sponsored the annual Awards of Excellence program. Here's a list of the past winners. Read More
Data ManagementEFC Announces FieldAlytics, Adapt-N Expanded Integratio…
July 17, 2017
EFC Systems is pleased to announce an expanded integration between its FieldAlytics product and Agronomic Technology Corp’s Adapt-N nitrogen recommendations Read More
Data ManagementOpinion: Benchmarking in Precision Agriculture is Big S…
July 17, 2017
Benchmarking has become a buzzword in precision agriculture recently and before we get too excited with all of the profound Read More
Yield Data Image
Data ManagementYield Data: More Than a Pretty Picture
July 13, 2017
It is mid-July, which, for the Australian cotton industry, means that picking is still going on for some growers. A Read More
Industry NewsQuick Rewind: Ohio Dealer Talks Deere-Precision Plantin…
July 12, 2017
A few weeks ago I took a quick trip south down I-71 to Central Ohio (for you non-Buckeyes, I-71 runs Read More
DronesSentera Launches Versatile Quad Sensor for Drones
July 12, 2017
Fully Customizable Filters on Sentera Quad Sensor Allow for Unique Crop Health Detection Capabilities Sentera introduces the latest update to Read More
Hortau Irrigation Management Software
Sensors/IoTHortau Named Finalist for CogX Artificial Intelligence …
July 10, 2017
Hortau was recently named a CogX Award finalist in the Best Artificial Intelligence Product in Agriculture category. The awards were Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsVantage South Atlantic Announces Mid-South Expansion
July 10, 2017
Vantage South Atlantic announced that it has joined Trimble Agriculture’s global network of independent Vantage partners to provide farmers, advisors, Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Decision Support SoftwareAgronomic Technology Corp Surpasses Daily Nitrogen Reco…
July 6, 2017
Agronomic Technology Corp, a leader in agricultural field modeling for soil, water, crops, and fertilizer, for the first time surpassed Read More
Precision IrrigationDealership Celebrates 25 Years in the Irrigation Game
July 6, 2017
25 years ago, Bobby Kempenich had an idea. An idea to launch a business that combined his knowledge of irrigation Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
ProfessionalsPatience Needed: Lessons for Getting New Tech onto the …
July 6, 2017
A popular joke within the tech industry was trotted out at GAI AgTech Week in Boston, MA, speaking volumes about Read More
Deere R4023 cab
Business ManagementOpinion: Reality vs. Hype in Precision Agriculture
July 6, 2017
I think there is a certain word that can accurately describe much of the precision ag and/or ag tech industry right Read More
Events2017 agBOT Challenge Winners Announced
July 6, 2017
Driverless robotic machines entered the fields of Gerrish Farms in Rockville, IN in June 2017. Universities and entrepreneurial teams showcased Read More