Harness the advancements of precision irrigation and take your operation to the next level.
Precision Agriculture is revolutionising the way we grow crops and can help to save resources while maintaining profitable yields. With precision irrigation technology, growers can optimise their watering regime and reap the incredible benefits.
The right amount of water at the right time.
A precision irrigation system delivers small amounts of water directly to crops when necessary, supporting their agronomic needs with pinpoint accuracy. When watering is combined with fertiliser, this method also provides plants with nutrients (known as fertigation).
Agricultural enterprises can reduce water and chemical use thanks to irrigation precision. By supplying resources in the right amounts at the right time, precision irrigation also leads to more sustainable farming practices, which is beneficial for both business and the environment.
Why growers are turning to precision irrigation
In a world of limited resources and an ever-increasing demand for food, growers are under immense pressure to produce more with less. Real threats like soil degradation, climate change and water scarcity mean key players in the agriculture industry have to find innovative ways to ensure production meets demand — while protecting resources.
By using precision irrigation systems, growers can precisely control the amount of water given to each plant or area, allowing them to maximise yields while minimising resource wastage. Precision irrigation also helps reduce labour costs by automating the irrigation process, allowing growers to spend more time focussing on other tasks. In addition, precision irrigation systems can help improve soil health and reduce runoff into nearby waterways. All of these benefits make precision irrigation an attractive option for growers.
Technology used in the automation of precision irrigation systems
Precision irrigation technology utilises sensors and controllers that are placed in fields to monitor soil moisture levels and temperature. This information is then used by computers to adjust the irrigation schedule according to current conditions. These systems also allow farmers to access data remotely, giving them the ability to make adjustments from anywhere with an internet connection.
Automated irrigation scheduling is especially useful when dealing with uncertain weather conditions and limited water resources. By connecting soil moisture sensors to an irrigation controller, water is delivered exactly when it’s needed, minimising excess usage while also ensuring that plants are properly hydrated.
Methods of precision irrigation
There are different categories into which the different methods for precision irrigation can fall. Watering the soil with an optimal volume to best support crop growth is the basis for all these methods, but they are implemented differently. Let’s look at the advantages the following three methods:
Precision Sprinkler Irrigation
Water is sprayed through machinery or manually operated tools. The sprinklers differ in pressure and size of droplets depending on their guns and nozzles. By selecting the right nozzle size and pressure, a sprinkler can be controlled for the amount of water to be applied and the area to be covered. Machines like centre pivot systems can be programmed to start and stop at specified angles or time, and fertigation and chemigation can be implemented by injecting chemicals into the irrigation water. .
Trickle or Drip Irrigation
Water is delivered with tiny pipes placed in lines, so this type is also known as drip tape, or drip line watering. The droplets are applied precisely to the crop at low pressure, reducing evaporation and nutrient losses through leaching. The lack of water nearby hinders the development of weeds; thus, it not only prevents plant starvation due to weeds but greatly reduces the volume of necessary water, which is one of its major benefits. This method can easily be used in irregular shaped fields.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation
This precision irrigation system is similar to drip (mentioned above) in terms of low water consumption. Plant roots are watered inside the soil through pipes and drippers. Since soil moisture is supplied underground, it does not evaporate. It’s a good option for soils with low water retention capacity, since it keeps plants optimally hydrated at the roots. However the underground drip line is not only highly vulnerable to insoluble particles but also to root hairs, machinery, and tilling.
Three major advantages of precision irrigation
Better water management
The most obvious potential benefit, of course, is saving water. When growers irrigate excessively the costs are high in both water and energy. Over watering can also hurt the crops’ health, and it has an overall negative environmental impact. Precision irrigation allows users to accurately measure the amount of water needed for each plot of land, adjusting the schedule according to weather conditions, in order to apply the perfect amount.
More efficient soil protection
Minimises runoff and increases water efficiency, helping to conserve soil resources. In addition, precision irrigation helps to reduce soil compaction and nutrient leaching, which can help to maintain soil fertility.
Increased crop yields
When irrigation is efficient and adapted to the needs of a specific crop, it will most likely lead to a higher yield with better quality crops. According to this study by The U.S. Department of Agriculture (which included 55 farmers) found that using technology that monitors data such as soil temperature and moisture led to an average yield increase of 8%. Read more about how Martijn Slabbekoorn, a fruit grower from the Netherlands optimised his yield by precisely controlling his irrigation.
Real-time monitoring with Farm21’s sensors and data platform
Farm21’s latest soil moisture probes, the FS21 sensors measure soil moisture at three different depths (-30cm, -10cm, 0cm) providing a direct indication of how much water is available to plants. This information can be used by farmers to adjust irrigation schedules in real-time, ensuring that their fields always have the right amount of water.
The Farm21 farming platform pools together all the field insights making it easy discover trends, correlations, and risks and fine-tune irrigation.
Let’s grow together! Set up a meeting to find out more about Farm21’s solution
Precision agtech is a extremely valuable tool that lead to resource savings while maintaining profitable yields. With precision irrigation technology, growers can optimise their watering regime and reap the incredible benefits.
The Farm21 sensor system is one tool that can be used for irrigation and offers a number of benefits, including real-time monitoring, water and resource savings, as well as improved yield quality.