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    Joining Lumo: The Second Part of the Irrigation Equation

    Ernie Wilson joins Lumo to fulfil second part of irrigation equation
    by Ernie Wilson

    I recently joined Lumo. Why? Because I care about the future of water.

    I grew up on my family’s cattle ranch in eastern Napa County, where water was scarce. The well on the ranch would run dry every year by August. At that point, the 6K gallons in the water tank was all we had to get us through to the rainy season. 

    So for a few months every year my family worked as a team to conserve water. The average US household consumes 12K gallons per month. We got by on two. Showers were two minutes max. We did laundry in town. It was difficult, but in a way, I remember enjoying the challenge. 

    When the rainy season began there was a collective feeling of both accomplishment and relief. It stuck with me…

    Fast forward to 2017. I was working at The North Face headquarters in Alameda. Alex Honnold had just free-soloed El Capitan. At lunch that day they were throwing a party to celebrate the feat. After lunch, I sat back down in front of my computer and stared at a giant spreadsheet containing the next season’s clothing line. I remember this feeling that came over me. I was working for this famed outdoor company, but I wasn’t getting paid to climb mountains, I was in a cubicle. I felt trapped. Great company, cool clothes, but something was missing. I realized it was time to look for a new job.

    I needed to do something that mattered to me. Something that got me back to my roots. So I Googled “water technology jobs” and found a sales position at Tule. I didn’t have any sales or ag experience, but they took a chance on me anyway. 

    And I loved it! It was a super tight knit team of problem solvers, and the problem that we were solving—when and how much to irrigate—was changing the way growers irrigated. It was helping save water! 

    I traveled all around California and Washington and worked with hundreds of growers. I learned how they irrigate, and saw firsthand the problems they were facing. One of the most interesting projects I worked on was using Tule data to calibrate landscape ET models, the need for which came as a result of looming SGMA regulation. Tule was helping shape the future of water in California. The work I was doing gave me a sense of purpose.

    Over the years, Tule sensors became a standard tool for irrigation decision making, but as that was happening, I began to notice a gap in the overall irrigation equation. 

    Tule was only helping solve the first part of the equation. The second part of the equation was holding growers back. 

    Many of the growers I worked with were now being limited, not by their ability to make good decisions, but by their ability to execute those decisions. The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. There was a disconnect between the person making the decision and the person executing the irrigation schedule. This is the second part of the equation that needs to be solved!

    And then one day a couple years ago, I saw Lumo at a Napa Thrive event in St. Helena. I remember thinking this is the missing piece of the puzzle right here! This is what growers need! 

    Lumo gives growers the ability to schedule irrigations according to plan, and validate, with real-time visibility, that their irrigation schedules are being carried out as intended. It lets them irrigate how much they want, when they want, with full accountability. It doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend or the Fourth of July. It gives them confidence that their crops are receiving the volume and timing of water that they’ve determined is optimal to achieve their production goals. It gives them the ability to save water by irrigating in smaller sets more frequently, and during the night, which also saves energy. It saves them time and gas by not having to drive around turning valves on and off manually. And it’s all packaged into one unit that is actually easy to implement!

    The wins that Lumo provides— water savings, labor savings, energy savings, better yield and improved crop quality through precision irrigation— these are the wins that growers need to happen right now. And so after six seasons with Tule, now feels like the right time for me to join the Lumo Team! I’m super excited to continue helping growers improve the way they irrigate, and even moreso, helping to protect the future of water in the community that I call home.

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