UArizona Faculty Visit Yuma Farm

March 3, 2023
Robert Nickerson Farms, Inc.

Image: Sharon B. Megdal. Rob Nickerson at Robert Nickerson Farms, Inc.

Last week, three faculty members of the UArizona Presidential Advisory Commission on the Future of Agriculture and Food Production in a Drying Climate visited Robert Nickerson Farms Inc. in Yuma, AZ. Owner Rob Nickerson gave the special Commission members a private tour of his farm’s expansive vegetable-growing operations and explained his growing practices. WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal, assistant professor and environmental microbiologist in the Department of Environmental Science Luisa Ikner, and assistant professor in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences Laura Condon were invited to a listening session to hear from people in the Yuma area and were also offered the opportunity to visit the farm. Yuma County is known as the “winter salad bowl,” and produces nearly all the leafy greens in the US during winter months. Nickerson Farms is in the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation & Drainage District.

Dr. Ikner said “Our visit to Nickerson Farms opened my eyes to the scale and modernity of agriculture in Yuma, Arizona. The importance and security of the Colorado River water supply in maintaining the productivity of growers like Nickerson Farms is vital to ensure food security for all of us.” Dr. Condon remarked that “It’s really impressive to see what can be done with such advanced precision agriculture. The growers in Yuma think a lot about ‘crop per drop’ and it is interesting to see how they are working to figure out how to do more with less.” Similarly, Director Megdal reported that she gained an appreciation for how complicated the planning is for growing the many different vegetables Nickerson Farms produces. She referenced a multi-page 2022–2023 growing season schedule with planting and harvesting dates for each crop and mentioned the green signs dotted around the fields indicating food safety monitoring, noting that “farming is a complex business, there’s a lot of precision that goes into it.”

Presidential Advisory Commission