YUMA, Ariz. - This week's Home Grown focuses on a new study where researchers from all over are coming to Yuma to use new technologies to help conserve water and eliminate salt in the soil during crop production.
“We're at a time now where we are being challenged to use water more efficiently and the question is what opportunities exist and how do we do it with new technological advantages to very accurately quantify water and salt use,” professor of soil, water and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, Charles Sanchez told News 11.
A year and a half ago, a group of people came to The Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA) asking for them to do a study on irrigation management and soil health.
“This is the type of project The Yuma Center of Excellence was created for," Paul Brierley from YCEDA said. "The problem was brought to us by stakeholders, we brought together research and we found the funding to make it happen so all this is happening right here in Yuma and it’s actually really exciting, some of the researchers are coming here and some of the data that we are producing including satellite data is going to be available to researchers anywhere," he said.
Now with research underway, Yuma has seven very sophisticated instrumentation used to track water and salt balance in vegetable production fields.
We use water from the Colorado river to irrigate our fields. The questions is how can we efficiently use our water source while getting the best crop.
Being conservative with water is important, however if we are too conservative and too much salt gets near the root zone, it could severely damage the crop.
“If you cut back water too much, even if you have enough for the crop requirement, it may not be enough to maintain salt balance,” Sanchez said.
So far, the research has shown that we are being fairly efficient when it comes to our water usage. We still get some soil buildup Sanchez explains but that may be from the rotational crops being used to manage that salt. The research is ongoing at this time.