What is in this article?:
- Conservation tillage trail blazed by John Diener
- Saving water, fuel and labor
- John Diener recognized again for pioneering, innovative farming.
- San Joaquin Valley West Side farmer faces challenging future with new ideas.
- Diener began experimenting with water and cost saving farming techniques two decades ago.
- Center pivot irrigation key element in conservation tillage approaches.
Saving water, fuel and labor
Diener now farms under 11 pivots. The systems he has developed save water, fuel and labor, and other farmers have noticed. There are now 35 to 40 additional pivots operated by other farmers on the West Side.
A year ago Diener was the first farmer in California to plant strip-till corn following wheat under center pivot irrigation.
“These types of systems will very likely have increasing importance in California’s West Side region in the future because of their resource conservation benefits and because they also reduce production costs,” said Mitchell.
“The various CT approaches that John has tried, learned from and developed were not at all easy and involved considerable risk. They now, however, enable others to move forward more smoothly with their own CT systems,” Mitchell noted.
“John Diener is an exceptionally insightful, conservation-minded and overall successful farmer. He is always looking for a better way of doing things, and through the vast visibility he has achieved throughout the region, he has brought tremendous innovation and natural resource conservation benefits to the entire San Joaquin Valley,” Mitchell said.
Diener’s latest recognition complements other awards he has received, including the Governor’s Innovative Irrigator Award, UCD’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, and just last year the Leopold Conservation Award.
Diener is also heavily involved in finding solutions to the growing perched water/drainage issue that poses a major threat to irrigated agriculture in California. He is immersed in a project called Integrated On-Farm Drainage Management (IFDM). A test site for the idea is nestled in a corner of his 5 Red Rock Ranch.
The goal of IFDM is to separate the salts from farmland drain water; sell the byproduct solids to industry, and either use the cleaned up water for farming or sell it as fresh water to the cities.
IFDM is using water purification systems like those used in hospitals and ion exchange technology to separate out the solids, many of which can be sold as industrial chemicals.