Ocean Mist Using New Technology to Save Water
CASTROVILLE, CA – Ocean Mist Farms is using new technology to combat the affects of drought conditions on its crops.
“The Salinas Valley is experiencing serious drought conditions, getting only 15 inches of rain in the past three years,” Chris Drew, Product Manager for Ocean Mist, told TechRepublic. To counter these conditions, Ocean Mist Farms has traditionally conserved water mainly through night irrigation and drip-line irrigation.
Now, however, Ocean Mist is looking to technology for help. According to TechRepublic, Chris, a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo with a degree in crop science, is working to bring that tech to the field. To help Ocean Mist adapt to the drought conditions, he partnered with John Deere and installed Field Connect, a prototype sensor array, in the artichoke fields.
The Field Connect collects data like soil temperature, air temperature, soil electro-conductivity, soil-moisture content, leaf-wetness and solar-radiation level from the field and sends it to John Deere servers for analysis.
Checking the soil-moisture content allows Ocean Mist to determine the time to water based on moisture at root depth to more accurately conserve water. The soil electro-conductivity allows Chris to monitor when it is time to fertilize and how much water to add based on changes in salt conductivity, according to TechRepublic.
At John Deere, the information gets analyzed, manipulated and made available on servers that Chris can monitor via a secure web application. According to Chris, before Field Connect was available, Ocean Mist relied on 10-year averages when making decisions. Now, the company is able to react in real-time to the needs of the plants.
When asked about the main advantage of using Field Connect by Tech Republic, Chris said, “Time. Saving time by not having to dig holes to see the soil’s moisture content.”
Looking to the future, Ocean Mist is planning to use technology in its harvesting, total water management, equipment maintenance and soil prep, fertilizing and planting.