Information provided by Phytech’s Head of Agronomy, Ziv Attia, PhD.
As crop prices drop and water, fertilizers, energy, and labor costs increase, now is the time to be proactive and attentively monitor every aspect of your farm operation. Finding the balance between tree health and cutting input costs is imperative for preventing long-term damage to trees. Monitoring can assist in pushing tree stress without affecting yields.
Importance of Monitoring Tree Stress
Monitoring tree stress is paramount for growers due to its pivotal role in pre-emptive management and overall orchard health.
Phytech's plant status monitoring is particularly crucial as it enables the detection of minute stress events before visible symptoms manifest in the orchard. Identifying stressors at an early stage allows growers to intervene promptly, preventing the escalation of issues that could negatively impact current season yields. Furthermore, stress events at key times during the season can have detrimental effects not only on the current season's yields but also potentially on yields in the subsequent season.
When trees experience stress, whether due to factors like inadequate water availability, high EC, nutrient deficiencies, or environmental extremes, several physiological and metabolic processes within the tree are affected. Increased stress hormones lead to stomatal closure, and disrupt photosynthesis, causing reduced energy production and impaired growth.
Stressed trees are more susceptible to pests and diseases, as their weakened state compromises natural defense mechanisms. Additionally, stress can negatively affect reproductive processes, influencing flowering, fruiting, and seed development. This, in turn, can result in reduced yield and poor fruit quality.
Moreover, chronic or severe stress can lead to long-term damage, impacting the tree's resilience and ability to recover. It may also contribute to premature aging and decline, reducing the overall lifespan of the tree. In orchards, the cumulative effect of stress across multiple trees can affect both current and future harvests.
Preventing Long-Term Damage
Phytech plays a pivotal role in preventing long-term damage to trees while managing stress levels by providing growers with real-time data and insights. Through continuous monitoring, our technology enables the early detection of stress events before visible symptoms occur, allowing for proactive interventions and mitigating potential long-term impacts on tree health.
The ability to tailor irrigation and fertigation routines based on specific plot needs, as well as the plant status monitoring, eliminates guesswork from growers' routines and facilitates informed decision-making.
By utilizing Phytech's monitoring capabilities to anticipate and address stressors, growers can proactively safeguard the health of their trees, optimize productivity, and mitigate potential long-term impacts on orchard yields.
Balancing Input Costs and Tree Health Phytech’s monitoring offers real-time data from the trees, soil, irrigation system, and the environment. Hence it provides a valuable tool for optimizing resource allocation.
Irrigation sensors enable monitoring pressures and actual amounts applied in each plot allowing growers to confirm whether their plan matches their execution while making sure pumps are off during peak hours.
Soil moisture probes allow growers to detect root uptake and, therefore, target water and fertilizers to the active root zone, avoiding costly leaching.
Dendrometers provide two valuable parameters: MDS and Growth. These two figures are part of the plant stress calculations. Crunching these numbers into crop-specific Plant Status algorithms allows more precise stress management. Typically growers can respond to stress events before stress signs are visible.
MDS - The less water available to the plant the more it contracts during the day due to tension built in its tissues, therefore, bigger contractions indicate higher stress levels.
Growth - Normally a plant should increase in size daily (rates will change according to the phenological stage). Negative growth is often an indication of yield affecting stress levels.
Plant Status - an index of plant health referring to water availability. Maintaining the plant status in the recommended green area will ensure optimized resource allocation
Environmental monitoring – Davis weather stations and temp/RH sensors allow better estimation of ETo, reacting to heat waves and chill/frost conditions in real-time.
Tips for Growers
When utilizing Phytech Monitoring, growers can optimize orchard health and productivity by adhering to key best practices.
Firstly, it is imperative for growers to incorporate the use of the Phytech website or app into their daily routines. Regularly evaluating the data and assessing the orchard's response to their agronomic practices and environmental conditions enables growers to make informed decisions, eliminating guesswork from their routines.
Growers should monitor and confirm that trees maintain an optimal plant status, minimizing stress as much as possible. Proactivity is key; if stress is detected, growers should adjust their irrigation sets accordingly. This may involve increasing irrigation for stressed trees or decreasing it if the plant status indicates a dark green color.
Furthermore, growers should be attentive to the overall irrigation strategy, ensuring the execution of the planned irrigation schedule is crucial and pressures are optimal. Guaranteeing water amounts applied are within the field capacity and maximum allowable depletion range, and most importantly that irrigation is targeted to the active root zone. Fine-tuning irrigation practices based on real-time data and plant responses contributes to efficient water management and enhanced stress prevention.
Phytech's contribution to optimizing resource utilization, reducing input costs, and identifying stress events at critical times during the season empowers growers to safeguard both the immediate and long-term productivity of orchards.