Gee whiz technology meets the farm

The Central Valley's World Ag Expo is showing off some of the latest money-saving and environmentally friendly solutions.
February 9, 2011 7:16:00 PM PST
Today's farmer is no stranger to technology as a way to improve profitability and reduce costs. The World Ag Expo, underway in Tulare in the southern San Joaquin Valley, is showing off some of the latest money-saving and environmentally friendly solutions.

Solar is an obvious technology for the sun-drenched Central Valley. Q-Cells, a German company, believes farms are fertile ground to deploy more photo-voltaic panels to produce power for irrigation pumps and refrigeration needs. A typical installation might run $4 million, according to Dru Sutton, Q-Cells' senior sales manager. However, the system will pay for itself in five to seven years. A solar system also qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax grant and single-year depreciation.

With new restrictions against burning of pruning from nut tree orchards in the Central Valley, an environmentally friendly shredder has been developed that clears the ground. DBS, a company based in Modesto, says it has taken three years of work to develop the machine, called a ShredAll, and it sells for $350,000.

Organic farmers can thank an Australian inventor who came up with a way to kill weeds without herbicides. Weedtechnics created a steam device that does the job and it comes in different sizes, ranging in cost from $10,000 to about $25,000. Besides organic farms, the steam weed killer is also being used by the San Francisco Parks & Recreations Dept. to avoid using herbicides. Weedtechnics President Jeremy Winer says it is also being deployed by schools that don't want to use herbicides on playgrounds and sidewalks where children play. The company has grown so quickly that it now manufactures its equipment in Southern California, creating green jobs.


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