Archive | Hazelnuts RSS feed for this section

Improving Water Management in Hazelnuts

17 Jul

On our farm we are always looking for ways to do more with less, improve efficiencies, work smarter and get more done with our hard working hours and dollars. 

We have slowly been moving away from hand line and wheel line irrigation and have made significant investments in linear irrigation systems. This year we made another move to even higher water use efficiency with drip irrigation in our hazelnut orchards. 

We plan to have at least half of our hazelnuts irrigated by drip this year. Which is exciting for many reasons. 

1. Labor: We used to water with hand lines. This took a minimum of three people to move pipe two to three times a day, around 2 hours each move.  And the cost of labor alone is going up significantly.  With our drip it will take only one person to turn the pump on, monitor valves and lines. 

2. Water when you want it and where you want it. Our drip system can easily be run from the pump that we already have and also can run at night when our pump is free from use on other crops. Simply put we can fill in the gaps to keep our pump running most efficiently. 

3. We can inject fertilizer by small doses to our trees. We consider this a spoon feeding approach and it’s shown to help trees grow and produce nuts at a more consistent level. 

4. We can keep our trees healthier by being able to get into the orchard at anytime to spray foliar feeds, kill pests or protect from disease, and not have to pick up pipe that is always in the way. 

5. Water from drip goes further. Drip irrigation has a 95% efficiency rating as compared to handlines which run at only 65%.  Factors such as evaporation and run off are considered when making this determination. 

Here’s a short video of our drip coming out of the tubing. 

You may wonder why we waited so long with a list of positives this long, well on the flip side of the pro and con list lies the cost of putting a system like this onto our farm. Luckily we already had the irrigation pump, but we had to add significant amount of underground mainline, put in a special filtration system, buy thousands of feet of drip tubing, build specialized equipment for putting the lines out and rolling them up. You can see it’s an investment in water, labor efficiency and equipment. 

So why now? Well first of all we have to budget beforehand in order to make improvements on our farm.  This is one improvement that we finally found room to add to our budget.  

And secondly we had some financial help from agencies that are focused on energy and water efficient projects. One being the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) and the other Energy Trust of Oregon. Both gave us funds to help us implement this project. We also have Stettlers Supply in Salem Oregon to thank for doing a great job on installation and heading up the project. 

This investment is one of those long term plans that I often reference. This is an improvement that will serve Matt and I as the third generation and hopefully the fourth, the fifth and on and on! 

Still in the Orchard

31 Mar

Well folks…I’m still out here.  Getting closer to done everyday, but still here for now. 

I took a few photos of what we are pruning on our trees. Our goal is to make them look more like a tree first of all (hazelnuts like to grow as a bush naturally) and secondly we are pruning to get growth. 

Before:

And after:

These trees got very stressed their first year due to a very dry and hot summer.  So we are now going in and getting rid of a lot of the stressed wood and making room for lots of growth. 

I promise I will have more to post on rather than just trees soon…hoping to be out of this orchard soon!  

On another note it looks like we are getting a pretty good stretch of spring weather coming up!  So hold onto your hats…there are going to be farmers running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to catch up!!  Which means lots of stuck tractors in muddy fields, lots of impatience, lots of longs days…but man it’s sure going to feel good to get out in that sunshine!!!!!!!  

Personally I’m looking forward to not wearing 17 layers by the end of today! 

Happy Friday!

Goodbye to Old Grey

6 Mar

Old Grey has been on our farm for 22 years.  22 fertilizer seasons of running around loaded down from field to field.  22 summers of hauling grass seed, clover, wheat, even filberts on long hot days.  22 years of wear, tear, washing and waxing before each season.

I realize it might seem silly to have an attachment to just a piece of equipment on our farm, but silly or not, I was sad to see her go.  Maybe it’s because I always think back when I was a kid and that steering wheel seemed so big!  I can perfectly imagine it’s what Hoot is thinking right as I took the photo below! Or maybe it’s the memories later, sitting in the driver’s seat of Old Grey, learning how to drive a semi, while dad sat in the passenger side and told me to “Take it easy on her!” and inevitably cringing while I grinded every gear heading down the road.  Old Grey is the truck that didn’t have the get up and go of her new counterparts at our farm, but I’ll be dammed if she didn’t always get you where you wanted to go….eventually.We bought a new truck that is currently being put together, painted up all pretty and shiny.  She’s newer than Old Grey by a long shot, has more horsepower, and will be a great addition to our farm.  When we bought her and made the decision to sell Old Grey, it was the end of an era.  This is the first large purchase that Matt and I have made since buying the farm from my parents.  In a way Old Grey represents the past generation on our farm and the transition to the next.

So while Hoot was farming with me on Friday, we went to say our goodbyes.  I gave our boy, generation number 4 a chance to stand on the seat and pull the horn one last time, just like I did growing up.

Obviously Hoot didn’t quite feel as sentimental as me, he was just excited to go see the combines haha! But regardless I said my thank yous for being such a great part of our farm, and for always getting us where we needed to be….eventually.

%d bloggers like this: