There are many innovative technologies and processes planned for Quay Valley, from the re-introduction of habitat and native foliage to high efficiency water reclamation and reuse, from energy efficient buildings powered by renewable solar energy to organic farming. In July of 2007, the Quay Valley planning team established a 50 acre onsite Research Ranch to test numerous new methods and systems which will help determine what may work best for the buildout of Quay Valley. This Research Ranch functions as a microcosm of the planned community, allowing us the chance to test many aspects of the development before rolling out on a large scale. After all, practice makes perfect.
For example, our water features team designed and created a three acre lake to better understand seepage, true evaporation levels, water quality, shore lining, algae growth, native water plants and, with the assistance of the California Department of Fish and Game, we stocked the lake with a variety of indigenous species of fish. This experimental lake functions as a test site for the planned 500 acres of water features that will be built in the community. In just one year, this lake has gone from a patch of dry land to a living eco-system that is home to aquatic life, plants, birds and other wildlife that have not been seen on the property in decades.
We are learning much about which shoreline aquatic plants are too aggressive and which ones provide the proper habitat for fish. We are understanding the limits of EC levels in the water and how they affect plants from a recycled water irrigation system. Effective organic algae control is an issue that not only Quay Valley, but many farmers in the area could benefit from as ditches become overrun and clogged with algae. Non-chemical dust control and non-pesticide weed control could help air quality issues throughout the Valley.
Different irrigation techniques and various groundcovers have taught us much about the soil as well as the Corcoran Clay shell underlying the soil. A wide variety of indigenous plants and trees have been imported to better know what will grow most efficiently in this climate and soil. With the help of the Theodore Payne Institute, wildflower seeds have been planted during different months of the year to test growing patterns and natural life cycles. Wind rates, temperatures and rainfall have been tracked to better understand weather cycles and other natural forces.
Horses and buffalo were brought in to graze on the native, organic grasses in large open pastures irrigated with reclaimed lake water.