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Limited Resource Farmers Learn How To Save Water and Energy

The Issue

Southeast Asian growers are important in the Merced County strawberry industry. Strawberries are so sensitive to water stress that there is a tendency to over-irrigate, wasting valuable water and increasing pumping costs.

What Has ANR Done?

Using a simple device called a tensiometer which measures soil moisture and is easy to understand and use, we have been helping small Southeast Asian growers learn how to irrigate more efficiently. After recruiting growers to participate in the project, we placed the tensiometers in two locations in each of their strawberry fields. The growers were provided with training in reading and recording the results, and with very simple guidelines for applying water as indicated by the readings.

Information demonstrating that tensiometers can be a useful tool for managing irrigation in strawberries also has been shared at meetings in Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno.

The Payoff

Farmers are saving energy and water

Interviews indicate that growers have used the tensiometers in attempts to cut back on water applications, and believe they have seen some savings in electricity usage. In any case, most of the farmers have learned to wait a bit longer before turning on their pumps. This has saved both water and electricity.


Supporting Unit: Merced County

Maxwell Norton, UC Cooperative Extension, 2145 Wardrobe, Merced 95340