Today, at the annual pre-season meeting with our Israeli avocado growers, accountable for 80% of the total market production, we've shared some amazing findings regarding the effects of irrigation with treated wastewater compared to clean water.
The bottom line - Avocado's roots have hard time to uptake water when the soil is being irrigated with treated wastewater. The result: 100 more stress days and 30% yield reduction as compared to plots irrigated with clean water.
Viewing soil moisture data alone would have led to the opposite - and totally misleading - conclusion that the avocados were “okay” because they were getting enough water. By connecting growers to their trees and generating real-time plant status we are supplying them the missing link to optimize production, so they can achieve better yields with just the right resources.
Take a look at the graph and continue reading afterwards
The Big Data revolution sweeping across the Ag industry is based on the premise of getting reliable data from the field and turning it into actionable recommendations that optimize production. So, before we even talk about algorithms, data crunching, machine learning etc., we must ask ourselves: What is the source of our data? And, how reliable is it?
At Phytech we're all about taking the data directly from our "workers" in the field. We do it by putting plant sensors on selected plants and continuously monitoring micro-variations of stem diameter, which are scientifically-proven stress indicators.
The key to unlocking the Digital farming revolution
As more and more growers in the US, Australia and Israel are joining the revolution and switching to Phytech's Plant-Based farming practices, we are continuously getting further evidence that the plant itself is the most reliable source of data and the key to unlocking the power of the digital revolution in Ag.
As opposed to other sensing methods that gather information by indirect means such as soil moisture, satellite imaging, weather etc., Phytech's approach is all about asking the patient directly how he feels. It's the difference between measuring someone's heartbeat with a stethoscope and inferring it from his skin color.
Ask the avocado tree, not the soil
2019 treated wastewater findings is a resounding approval for our Plant-Based farming approach from a fascinating observation made in avocado orchards in Israel.
Due to water scarcity in Israel, growers mostly irrigate with recycled water. Using Phytech in commercial avocado orchards irrigated with treated wastewater and with clean, we could see in real time that trees in "recycled water" plots were experiencing stress despite receiving enough water. The problem was not quantity - it was quality.
Irrigating with low quality treated wastewater can change the structure and chemistry of the soil, thus damaging the roots' water uptake ability. The soil may be wet, but the plant is not able to drink efficiently. The result: Stressed avocado trees were less productive and had lower yields compared to plots irrigated with freshwater.