Landscape & Irrigation

October 2017

Landscape and Irrigation is read by decision makers throughout the landscape and irrigation markets — including contractors, landscape architects, professional grounds managers, and irrigation and water mgmt companies and reaches the entire spetrum.

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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS Landscape and Irrigation October 2017 25 on a farm, but it's huge when you are farming on top of a NFL press box. Nature and nurture of irrigation Another quasi-irrigation solution for select projects is adding biochar to our rooftop gardens. Biochar is a fine charcoal made from biomass (green waste) burned in the absence of oxygen — a process called pyrolysis. The concept for biochar came from studying rich Amazonian soils produced by the regenerative agricultural practices of indigenous people. This included burning biomass in trenches that were covered with soil. The charcoal created through this process was slowly incorporated into the soil, with the help of decomposers (such as worms). Over time, this led to dark, fertile soils that reportedly retained their nutrient content for many years. The benefits include carbon sequestration, increased soil fertility, and increased agricultural yields. But it also holds water in the soil by retention in small grooves of the charcoal, allowing tiny root hairs to access moisture, and preventing runoff. This is critical when trying to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering waterways in the Bay Area. Separately, the ability to enhance soil fertility through traditional means — adding soil and compost — is limited at Levi's Stadium due to the weight-bearing capacity of the roof. This makes biochar a promising soil alternative as it is lightweight. Recycled water has become more prevalent at our projects across the Bay. Currently, Farmscape has 10 large commercial projects using it. While the quality varies from site to site, the combined quality has improved over the past five years. There tends to be slightly more salt and/or calcium in the water, and so the key is to use quality water filters and clean them often. We find the standard 3/4-inch 140 mesh inline disc filter to be the right starting point for any project with recycled water. If we are still finding the emitters are clogging, we swap them with Amiad filters. Learning to irrigate food crops in a variety of challenging city settings has been an interesting journey during the past decade. We've seen the rise of edible gardens in major metropolitan areas by residents who formerly lived in the suburbs but crave a piece of farm life in their backyard. Or for stressed city dwellers who are looking for new ways to decompress with nature. Farmscape has researched heavily into this growing mainstream trend, and produced logical applications for cost-effective urban farming maintenance. This is alongside educating home and business owners on the importance of environmentally friendly practices we use as standard — to not only keep their utility bills low, but also become more eco-conscious within the city. Lara Hermanson is co-founder and principal at Farmscape, the nation's largest urban-farming company. Farmscape has worked on more than 600 urban farming projects including Levi's Stadium, AT&T Park, and Oracle. A look at select Farmscape clients is available at To learn more about how to irrigate an urban farm, visit the Farmscape blog at Author Lara Hermanson at Levi's Stadium

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