New watering system improves farming

Farm staff member Kevin Renker explains how newly-installed waterlines irrigate the field at the University Farm. Photo credit: John Domogma

Chico State’s University Farm has implemented a new watering system that faculty, staff and students who work on the farm believe will improve water efficiency.

The month-old wheel line irrigation system will upgrade water usage while reducing the amount of labor needed by students and employees at the farm, according to Dave Daley, University Farm administrator.

“Its much more efficient than some of the other techniques we’ve used,” Daley said. “Much better than flooding, that just takes a lot of water.”

Flooding, also known as furrow irrigation, is when farmers flood small trenches running through their crops in order to irrigate.

The new wheel line will only be used for the organic alfalfa field at this time. The field is close to 30 acres of land. The current wheel line is about 900 feet long.

Instead of moving sprinkler systems by hand, the wheel line will roll from one water valve to the next because of a motor that connects to the piping that hold the wheels and rotary sprinklers, according to Kevin Renker, farm maintenance and equipment operator.

“We thought this was the best option for our farm,” Renker said.

The new system comes at a good time as the farm was concerned with their water reserves due to the current drought.

Daley said the new system will do three major things for the farm:

  • Improve efficiency of water usage
  • Increase productivity around the farm
  • Adds another technique available to teach the students at the farm

“We have to find stuff that is going to work for us here,” Renker said.

Robert Engels can be reached at [email protected] or @sullayyy on Twitter.