Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020CA295B

Precision Irrigation Management for Optimizing In-Season and Post-Harvest Use of Limited Water in Young and Mature Almond Orchards

Institute: California
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $12,696 Total Non-Federal Funds: $35,748

Principal Investigators: Dr. Isaya Kisekka

Abstract: Frequent droughts in California coupled with recent changes in water policy legislation such as SGMA strengthens the incentive for farmers to conserve water. Currently almonds are the largest irrigated crop in California with over 1.2 million acres. Almond production in California has unique water issues, including the need for post-harvest irrigation and the presence of different almond varieties with shifted growth stages and water needs in the same orchard to establish effective pollination. Typical almond orchards are arranged in rows that alternate between a high-yielding variety (e.g., Nonpareil) and one or more pollinator varieties (e.g., Butt). Traditionally, farmers have set up their irrigation systems to irrigate the entire orchard the same and cannot independently irrigate the different almond tree varieties within the orchard. Improving water productivity of almond production would increase profits for California almond growers. Also groundwater sustainability will be enhanced by implementing regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) practices. RDI can produce reductions in consumptive water use. California’s almond acreage increased by 7% between 2016 and 2017, indicating increased acreage of young almond orchards. The goal of this component of the project is quantify evapotranspiration from 1st leaf, 2nd leaf and 3rd leaf almond orchards and consequently crop coefficients for the different ages of almond orchards. The objectives of the study will be to (1) evaluate precision irrigation management by variety in the same almond orchard, (2) evaluate RDI management during the pre-harvest and post-harvest periods, and 3) evaluate crop water use of young almond orchards and determine crop coefficients.