by Mark Hovda, Western Regional Manager
Have you ever wondered why you are able to buy fresh produce in the grocery store, even with snow on the ground? Well, say hello to The Imperial Valley in California, Yuma, Arizona, and Mexicali, Mexico. These three areas represent the answer to the above question. The SHORT list of crops grown in these areas consists of different types of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, carrots, onions, spinach, sugar beets, asparagus, etc. If you opt for a fruit salad, they have you well covered there as well since they also produce watermelons, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons.
Along with these fruit and vegetable crops, there are huge acreages of forage, grasses, grass seed, wheat, dates, etc. Over 175 different crops are grown in the area. These are large water users and are continually under the gun to reduce their usage. This is a real issue.
To produce these prodigious amounts of fresh goodness they need three main things. 1) Sun. With an avg. the temperature of 65-75 degrees in the winter months and well into the 100s in the summer months it creates an environment well suited for the variety of crops grown there. 2) Controlled water. With an avg. of 3-4 inches of rain a year, it’s a good thing the Colorado River is running through these areas on the way to Mexico or it could be a short growing season. 3) Healthy Soil. That same Colorado River has been dumping sediment in the area for thousands of years resulting in extremely fertile soil.
This is obviously an amazing agricultural area but it isn’t without its challenges. Growing these crops demands high inputs of fertilizers and aggressive pest and weed control. Along with this comes new mandates and regulations addressing things like nitrates, phosphates and water conservation. They have had to deal with some major scares from a food safety standpoint. Resulting recalls have caused a huge negative economic impact. No one is waving a white flag but rather they are looking at anything that can be done to mitigate these issues, whether it is through changing practices or exploring emerging technologies and products. They know these enviornmental regulation changes are coming so they are open to virtually any credible solution that may be offered. QLF Agronomy knows that there are ways to be more efficient with our water and nutrients by creating a robust microbial population. This thriving microbial community contributes to better soil tilth and resiliency resulting in the opening of the soil and increased nutrient availability. QLF Agronomy takes a carbon-based approach to managing nitrogen use efficiency, reducing the concentration of salts that come from the use of synthetic nitrogen inputs. We have seen better crop performance by reducing nitrogen concentrations in Urea Ammonia Nitrate (UAN 32) by up to 25% and replacing that with L-CBF BOOST. The bottom line is that by working with Biology, we can achieve more with Chemistry. This critical relationship is enhanced by the low ph and high energy of L-CBF BOOST. In addition to improving nutrient effeciency management with L-CBF, there are some interesting developments in the area of pest abd weed control with L-CBF that may reduce inputs and improve plant health. QLF Agronomy is working on filling the needs and demands challenging growers. We contine to create solutions that will let these talented growers continue to feed the country for generations to come.