Net Zero Water Farming A Race Against Time To Meet SGMA Requirements
This topic details net-zero water farming to meet SGMA requirements.
In California, a huge agricultural problem is the over drafting of our agricultural land by 30%, which means we need to fallow up to 30% of our agricultural land to maintain groundwater balancing.
In California, we have a new law called SGMA which restricts a timeline for us to get to groundwater balancing. To fulfill the SGMA requirements, we propose the Net Zero Water Farming technique. The first of the plans came out in 2020, the next group of plans is due in 2022.
We have to start thinking about hitting groundwater balancing within five years and have a plan to be fully groundwater balanced in 20 years. That doesn’t account for droughts so we have this time race to get there much faster than the due date in 20 years.
The natural water table currently is about 75 to 500 feet down. Then you have that natural quarter very fringe which is about two to five feet above the saturated zone. The saturated zone is called the groundwater table. It’s dropping anywhere from one to two feet per year. We have to get this under control.
If we can reduce our water usage by 30%, we can keep using 100% of our land in production. We then can share to the world that all of our crops are sustainable for the long term.
Current strategies are all about drip irrigation; not water conserving, not beneficial, not profitable. Drip irrigation does not allow recharging. With drip irrigation you always see puddles on the surface, leaving top soil filled with water as the heat causes it to evaporate. A waste of valuable water, energy and expense.
For recharging, there are currently two solutions that are inefficient; The first one is flood irrigation or flood Mar by flooding the fields. This fully saturates the fields while the trees are dormant to recharge the groundwater. The second option are drain tiles; The drain tiles are placed 14 to 10 feets below the surface and are used as a reverse drain tile. This application tries to fill the drain tiles with water, while trying to get water down into the groundwater level.
Our solution is Aquifer Pipe is a patent design with a unique V shape to raise the water table up into what we call a virtual water table. We created this virtual saturated zone which also has a virtual category fringe associated with it, which is two to three feet from the surface. The saturated zone is buried five feet below the surface, and apx two to three feet in height.
The Aquifer Pipe is a new technology derived from a previous design. We have been applying this type of system in urban areas for the past four years. Our first application was recycling water from showers and laundries to irrigate lawns and gardens with. The installation was by placing the pipe about one foot below the surface, creating a moisture plume that is eight feet wide.
The difference between residence and agriculture was a three-inch pipe diameter for residential to six-inch pipe diameter for farming. Creating a much bigger moisture plume from which the trees can feed from.
The virtual water table sits in the middle of the service road, away from the trees from ten to eleven feet on each side of the pipe. This large six-inch diameter pipe sits at the center of that road.
The Aquifer Pipe is specially designed to create this moisture plume; this moisture plume goes two feet high and fourteen feet wide. This moisture plume covers the full length of the service road, which the trees feed on the moisture plume (not directly from the pipe).
The virtual table is placed below the surface so that we can avoid water loss due to evaporation. We are also feeding trees at the roots which cuts water consumption by 50%.
The Aquifer Pipe is six-inch in diameter and can run for the full length up to a mile. You can also call it a smart drain tile or subsurface irrigation. In this particular picture, we’re showing the V-shape of the pipe (a quarter shows how big this pipe is). To give you an idea about the size of the pipe, place your smartphone along the pipe. Your smartphone is still going to need a couple more inches to be the size of a six-inch diameter pipe.
Water is being pushed through and along the side channels of the pipe, then it seeps into the center channel through seep holes that are a quarter-inch wide. The Center channel becomes fully saturated creating a virtual water table which allows surrounding soil to wack-it-up, and creates the moisture plume as shown in the last picture. The moisture plume is two feet high and 14 feet wide where the trees feed on. They do not feed on the pipe directly; they’re always feeding on the moisture plume that’s being created.
Groundwater Recharger with The Aquifer Pipe
Recharging of the water table so the Aquifer Pipe can be used for all the seasons. During the summertime, we need to create the virtual saturated zone in the virtual category fringe to feed the trees and not let any water go down to deep percolation.
During winter months or when surface water is abundant, you want to overcharge it meaning you want to add in more water than what is needed for the trees. Aquifer Pipe retrieves ground surface water, recharges the water, which inturn allows you to obtain additional groundwater banking credits, and creates longer sustainability for your farm. Although this example of process is described for winter, you can recharge at any time when there is an availability of surface water, you’re not going to disrupt any type of surface operations.
There are plenty of other benefits to the Aquifer Pipe, however we want to emphasize Net Zero Water Farming to achieve groundwater balancing on an individual basis.
Your increased savings in; fewer weeds because there’s no surface water being applied. You will not have weed seeds that need germination, that eliminates the need for herbicides and the labor to apply the herbicides.
Another advantage is that there’s less irrigation maintenance because we remove all the surface irrigation. The subterranean placement keeps rodents from chewing on irrigation lines or pests clogging up the system, or calcium buildup on your drip emitters due to the hard water that we have here in California.
With no surface water during harvest time, there’s no need to worry about shaking the trees and having the nuts sitting in a water channel developing fungi and causing a reduction in your crop yield.
Another issue with the sprinkler or the drip systems when they are placed too close to the trees, they can cause crown rot in your trees to die. Once again the Aquifer Pipe placed deep into the soil keeps the water below the surface about two feet to three feet.
With Aquifer Pipe, you can Recharge anytime during the year whenever water is abundant. Unlike flood Marr which is a winter type recharging system, if rain is present it can be ineffective and damaging to crops.
Overview of Net Zero Water Farming
The Aquifer Pipe is placed down below creating a moisture plume, therefore the tree roots are going to grow three to five feet deep into the soil structure, hence the crops start to grow, and you won’t have blow overs to your trees.
Currently we measure chill hours on the surface and as with most of our irrigation is a drip process, the roots grow closer to the surface.
On hot summer days, soil warms up and wakes up the dormant roots by pushing roots deeper to 3 to 5 feet. In this case the Aquifer Pipe, the piping is placed below not being impacted by hot days thus increasing the chill hours for the trees.
Sustainable long-term farming adds value to anybody who has to sell their product to a value chain. Sustainable Net Zero Water Farming provides valuable inputs to products of either a juicing company or a large restaurant chain. Additional value to your farm is proving that you are at ‘groundwater balancing’ and not limited to restricting your crop during a drought or other similar situation. The freedom of Net Zero Water Farming is going to increase in value added to your harvest and allow your farm to be sustainable for generations to come.
Let UmidaAG help you reach groundwater balancing Net Zero Water Farming, give us a call. We will be happy to visit your farm and gladly go over how you can achieve water conservation and sustainability whilst reaping the benefits of profits. A step-by-step approach to meet groundwater balancing under SGMA applications.
Because you want to be more of a sustainable farmer in the future.