New Tech Archives - West Coast Nut


New Tech

Preparing Your Orchard for Ag Tech:

The technology floodgates have burst wide-open in the agriculture industry. It is nearly impossible to read a trade magazine, attend a convention or scroll through social media without encountering agricultural technology in one form or another. That should be no surprise. The rapid pace of technological advancement is transforming many industries, as well as our daily personal lives. But the continual procession of new ag technology products and services can be overwhelming, and the associated time and cost of evaluating each is proving to be a barrier to adoption. Most growers and consultants recognize a need to become more efficient in their business. Rising labor costs, suppressed commodity prices and ever-expanding regulatory requirements are putting intense financial pressure on many agricultural operations in California. Compliance programs alone, for food safety, worker protection, pesticides and nutrient management, are inundating operators with documentation and reporting requirements. In light of the significant challenges...

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Drone Technology in Nut Crops

Growers have put ‘boots on the ground’ for generations to visually inspect their fields and orchards. With the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles that carry infrared cameras, growers now have the opportunity to view real time orchard and field conditions on their phones and make management decisions to improve crop health and production. Dr. Gregory Kriehn, California State University, Fresno, engineering professor and speaker at the Walnut Day in Visalia, said use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones is becoming more common in agriculture as growers are seeking more precision in application of water, nutrients or pesticides. California farms, which produced 13 percent of U.S. farm dollars, rely on about 20,000 drones to assist with management decision and one in 10 California farmers use drones to help with management decisions, mostly in higher value permanent crops, Kriehn said.   For perspective, last year there were 9,000 registered unmanned aircraft systems...

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The Future of Off-Ground Harvest

The journey toward off-ground almond harvest has begun. A panel of growers, industry leaders and researchers led a discussion of this momentous move at the 2019 Almond Conference. Reducing Dust One of the main drivers of this journey is the reduction of dust at harvest. “The 2025 goal of reducing dust by 50 percent can’t be reached without off-ground harvest,” Patrick Brown, University of California (UC) Davis plant sciences researcher, told the audience. Most California harvest equipment manufacturers are participating in the journey toward off-ground harvest, collaborating with researchers and participating in field trials, session moderator Brian Wahlbrink of Sperry Farms
said. Studying Off-Ground Harvest Brown and other researchers, equipment manufacturers and growers have been studying the options for off-ground harvest, along with challenges and costs. The economics of drying the nuts, ensuring kernel quality, changes in harvest equipment and new configurations for orchard establishment were all weighed against elimination of...

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A New Approach to IPM

There is a new approach to integrated pest management said Dr. Surendra K. Dara, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) entomology and biological advisor and speaker at the inaugural Crop Consultant Conference. The Journal of Integrated Pest Management published Dara’s work on The New IPM Paradigm for the Modern Age earlier this year. In his paper, Dara writes that the concept of IPM is not new and has historically been based on ecological and economic aspects of pest management. The new model, Dara said, is expanded to include management, business, and sustainability while emphasizing the importance of research and public outreach. The new IPM model is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable. Balanced Ecology with Economics Dara said that traditionally, IPM has balanced ecology with economics. The shift places more emphasis on ecology. Pest management decisions have to make economic sense, he said, but now there are more factors...

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Temperature Controlled Bee Storage

Avoiding losses due to varroa mites, lack of adequate fall forage and high overwintering feeding/labor costs are all reasons California beekeepers have for considering storing their colonies indoors during the winter.   Temperature-controlled In temperature-controlled storage, bees are less active and go into a hibernation mode. This extends the life of the bees and causes a break in reproduction as the queen does not lay eggs. Bees normally live 40-50 days, but inside, their life span can be extended to 150 days, as they are not burning themselves out feeding their young. The break in reproduction can also break the life cycle of the parasitic varroa mite, one of the leading causes of hive mortality. Last year in Kern County, one of the first large scale storage facilities housed about 40,000 bee colonies over the winter. The controlled atmosphere building was an alternative to field storage and supplemental feeding over...

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