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which they’re being produced. Those emissions are being collected

under a variety of conditions, in order to compare the volume produced, including with both a compost mulch and wood chip mulch; under different irrigation times, and with different fertilizer amounts and types. Both manual and automated

chambers are being used in both the vineyard and apple orchard sites, with a number of students helping in the work. Using drip irrigation or micro-spray,

they’re seeing differences in where the water ends up relative to the roots. For instance, with drippers all the ground surface around it becomes wet, while with spray emitters, less of the surface becomes wet, but the intent is that both spread water out to the roots. Both are more efficient than

overhead sprinkling. To reduce evaporation they’re using

mulches such as wood chips and compost, which also supply some carbon and they’re testing to try and establish how much nitrogen is provided by the compost. In the apple orchard, they’re also

looking at a woven fabric weed block. All help suppress evaporation. With fertigation delivering water

and nitrogen to the same spot in the soil, soil microbes use nitrogen and in the process, they produce nitrous oxide. More is produced from wet soils, where the bacteria who need oxygen to work find less of it, so substitute nitrogen instead. Jones’s group is looking at the

carbon exchange, using isotopes to determine what might be the carbon source, long-term soil storage or a short-term cycle. Nelson’s group is looking at soil

micro-organisms that produce nitrous oxide and relate their populations to a variety of irrigation and nitrogen management practices to determine which are most effective at minimizing nitrous oxide emissions. The affect of irrigation and nutrients

on plant health and productivity is also being looked at by scientists at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre. This year was spent setting up the

experiments and determining the materials and parameters of each aspect of the project in the field. In the coming years, the results of

all these experiments will be reported out to growers.

20 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Winter 2012-13

Looking Back By Wayne Wilson

between 40,000 and 50,000 acres of land were subdivided from grazing land, grain fields, and hay flats into orchard lots. Yet, the planting of orchards continued


well beyond the start of World War I. The limit to growth, however, was access to a ready and reliable source of irrigation water. In the south Okanagan, the solution to

the water problem came in the form of the ‘mega-project’ of its day – the South Okanagan Lands Project – a soldier resettlement project funded by the B.C. government. Consisting of a canal and siphon system stretching from McIntyre Bluffs north of Oliver south to the United States/Canada border, this was the final development that made the Okanagan Valley into a truly cohesive agricultural region in the province. With the plantings that took place in

the 1920s and 1930s, the entire Okanagan Valley took on the ordered and symmetric look that has come to

rguably the most dramatic change to the Okanagan landscape came between 1904 and 1914 when


characterize the region. Pictured here is

the siphon that took water from the east side of the Valley, across the Okanagan River near downtown Oliver, and up the west slope to continue in a canal network that ended at the border. This was a 76-inch continuous wood-stave siphon that was emptied each fall and primed each spring to draw water across the reach of the valley bottom. One pioneer remembers that, as a boy

in the 1930s and early 1940s, it was a kind of right-of-passage to run through the darkened siphon in the winter when it was empty – shafts of light arcing across the darkness from between the shrunken wooden staves. A siphon is still in use today, but it is smaller in diameter, is made of metal pipe, and is largely buried except where it crosses the Okanagan River. — Wayne Wilson is the former executive-director of the B.C. Orchard Industry Museum and the B.C. Wine Museum.

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