New Tech Archives - West Coast Nut





New Tech



Solar Systems in Agriculture

The Future of Solar in Agriculture

By: Kathy Coatney, Editor

There are changes coming to solar in next few years. One of the big changes is the investment tax credit.  

Investment Tax Credit

The Investment Tax Credit is a 30 percent credit at the federal level that is available in all 50 states for any type of renewable energy. In California, this is the primary incentive available, according to Chad Cummings, director of sales and marketing for JKB Energy. What this means is, if it’s a million dollar project the grower receives an immediate tax discount of $300,000, which is different than a write off, Cummings explained. “This is an actual credit against whatever you’re tax liability is,” Cummings said, adding it’s basically a 30 percent off price tag. This incentive has been available for years, but starting 2020 the percentage will start declining.  
  • In 2020 it will decrease to 26 percent.
  • In 2021...

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an arial photo done by drones

UAV Research Shows Promise

By Kathy Coatney Editor

What do drones or UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, hold for the future for agriculture? Currently, there are three main uses for UAVs in nut orchards. 1. Multispectral imaging sensors that are mounted to the drone. In the past, the sensors were much larger and they had to be on a manned aircraft, then flown over an orchard. It was very expensive and could only be done a few times a year, but now there are compact sensors and growers can pilot the drones themselves. They can scan their orchards as frequently as they want for a fraction of the cost. And with the ability to scan the crop more frequently, they can evaluate crop health, and make better, more informed decisions. 2. Drones can create detailed GPS maps of an orchard using on-board cameras. From these images, orthomosaic maps can be created. Orthomosaic maps are smaller pictures that are stitched together...

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Remote Sensors

Remote Sensors for Precision Ag at West Hills College

By Terry Brase, West Hills College Precision Ag Instructor

In the previous article of this series, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) were discussed. For all of the attention that UAS get, it is just a piece of the puzzle. First of all the unmanned aerial vehicles are only one type of platform for capturing imagery; there are also satellites, manned flights, and ground based.  Second, platforms are not even the most important part of the puzzle. The imagery that shows how a crop is doing or provides information is the important part.  That leads us this month to the sensors or cameras that are used to capture the imagery. Sensors in agriculture should be a bigger deal than UAS, but they aren’t as cool so they don’t get all the headlines. They are like the guy that is in the background doing all the work, but doesn’t get the credit. Sensors are a big topic, so this is actually going...

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Technology: Using Electrical Conductivity Sensors to Salinity

By Terry Brase, West Hills College Precision Ag Instructor

West Hills College hosted an Open Farm on October 25, 2017 on the Farm of the Future to demonstrate some of the latest technology. Technology just for the sake of technology will rarely bring benefit. However production or management needs that can be satisfied through the application of technology should be considered. The Farm of the Future tries to incorporate technology we believe to have practical usefulness to growers. Demonstrations at the Open Farm event included: the use of wireless sensors/control network with software to determine power and water efficiencies; use of infrared imagery to determine plant stress and vigor; and the use of electrical conductivity sensors to determine salinity. It is this last technology that is the subject of this article. Crops, whether they be annual row crops or permanent orchards, respond to various factors. These can be categorized as: anthropogenic (human impacts such as compaction or irrigation), edaphic...

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Electronic measuring

Ag Tech: Electronic dendrometrics can save water and money

By Len Wilcox, Contributing Writer

This month’s Ag Tech topic came about because a reader wrote us with a request for information.  He wanted to know about the use of dendrometrics in water conservation. We’re very glad he asked, as it sent us down a road that has been very interesting. What’s more important is, we found a new water and nutrient monitoring method that could save growers money.   With recently developed electronic measuring techniques, a high-tech equivalent of the old-fashioned dendrometer is becoming an important tool for hi-tech tree and vine growers. It’s helping them deliver water and nutrients only when the plant needs them.  This can provide a potential savings in water and fertilizers. It is a demand-based water and nutrient management system based upon careful measuring of plant fluids.   Dendrometers have been used to evaluate the health of orchards and forests for years. They are metal bands that encircle the...

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