Tasteful Selections Is The 2016 Grower Achievement Award Recipient
Irrigation: From Flood To Linear
EXPANDING its acreage two years ago, Arvin, CA-based Tasteful Selections converted about 1,500 acres of flood-irrigated land into fields of potatoes, garlic, watermelons, carrots, and other row crops grown under linear sprinkler irrigation systems.
Securing the additional acreage, however, went hand in hand with the construction of a new packing facility.
“When we were deciding to build the new facility and I had to go to the board and owners for $30 million, the direction I was given was to secure long-term land. So I went and found 1,500 acres,” says Bob Bender, President and General Manager of Tasteful Selections.
The land he secured was ideal for vegetables. It was planted with 40-year-old grapevines, however, so they had to remove not only the grapevines and roots, but also posts and wire on all 1,500 acres.
Labor-Saving Irrigation System
The next step was implementing an efficient irrigation system. Bender opted for a linear irrigation system that uses computerized controls to deliver water through a main central pipeline to concrete ditches. The ditches, in turn, supply water to a system designed to irrigate square and rectangular fields — essentially hitting every corner of the fields.
“Coming from the Midwest, for me, I wanted automation. I used to run center pivot irrigation everywhere, and in California that is not very popular,” Bender says. “One of the drawbacks to center pivot is that it goes in a circle, so the corners aren’t irrigated. Because land is so expensive in California, we can’t waste those corners.”
Bender worked with Nebraska-based Valmont Industries, a supplier of linear systems. Essentially, he says the system covers all the acres by traveling the entire length and width of the field.
Supplying the irrigation water are wells tied together via a central 2½-mile-long distribution pipeline. The system is automated, complete with variable speed drives on the wells to keep the ditches at certain levels, so when the water in one ditch goes down a level, it will turn on another well, Bender explains. The result is it irrigates about 98% of the field and doesn’t leave out corners.
The farm uses nine linear systems on the 1,500 acres, requiring just two to three people to operate the systems, which saves on labor. If he used conventional irrigation practices, Bender says it would take 10 people to do the job.
Currently, the farm is in the process of converting an additional 800 acres of flood irrigated land to linear irrigation systems.