Monday, May 12, 2014

What About Water?

Over the past year when we give a tour at KB Farms, the first question we are asked is, “what about water?”  You can’t open the paper without an article about the California drought and the future of water in the state.  Flower growers like the rest of agriculture depends on water, therefore, we are very concerned about its quality and quantity now and in the future.  We are taking major steps to reduce our water usage without compromising quality.

Kitayama Brothers instituted the most basic method of water savings over 15 years ago when we converted all our crops to drip irrigation away from sprinklers or nozzle spray irrigation. 

This year Kitayama Brothers completed our gerbera water recycling system.  

The system is beneficial for two reasons; one is to use the recycled water but also to use the recycled fertilizer.  

We collect the water from the hydroponic gerbera system with white PVC pipe collectors.  

The recycled water is then sent to collecting tanks where the water and fertilizer are filtered and reused on our field crops.  

Here is a picture of the recycle tanks and recycle system next to a new collection pond for greenhouse roof runoff.

My sister-in-law, Carol Kitayama graduated in horticulture and does projects for KB.  One of her current projects is to experiment with tensiometers to measure our water usage versus the actual water needs of the plant.  Conventional wisdom was that over-watering was better than under-watering especially in our sandy soil.  However, with data from the tensiometers we believe we could cut our water use by 10-20%.  

Tensiometers are commonly used in the fields with produce; we believe KB is the first to experiment with tensiometers in the greenhouse.

Next year is supposed to be an El Nino year in California which could result in a lot of rain.  That would be great, but that won’t solve our long term problem.  Just like every other problem in life, it will require thinking and hard work to overcome this threat.


1 comment:

  1. I believe most growers are doing it all wrong regarding water. Its precious nature when using drinking water (usually too toxic for flowers/plants) can be used from another source.
    Since you are a coastal farm, you should devise a way to work with groups that can utilize the deep freezing cold water to irrigate your plants. Ice cold water from the depths of the ocean can be pumped in plastic tubing and used as thermal watering systems. It is a known fact that cold deep ocean water can be used to air condition offices and the like by using sea water as the chilling agent and blow a fan over this to cool air. The same technology can be applied to make atmospheric water in the air to create water droplets, like a can of soda taken from the cold and placed on a table, soon water droplets form on its sides and thus making "free" water just from the air.
    Having a lengthy period of time from which cold seawater can be brought up and channeled through tubing in the soil or in pots, etc and being warmed by the sun can have a great effect on providing clean pure water in its purest form.
    Other water technologies still needs to be expanded on such as Air 2Water technology. The water in the air can be made potable by using various technologies to draw pure water from atmospheric water and can also be applied by solar powered forms of making "free" water.
    Unfortunately it is difficult to work with current "old school" ways when so much opportunities are out there and so underutilized.