Getting More Precise With Irrigation

  • Aug 17, 2016
Getting More Precise With Irrigation
As water availability becomes increasingly restricted across the country, more farmers are turning to variable-rate technology to squeeze the most benefit from each drop of this precious resource. Farming operations in more arid regions have been among the first to adopt precision irrigation; however, any operation using an irrigation system that has variable field conditions could benefit from this technology.
How It Works
The concept behind precision irrigation is similar to other variable-rate ag technologies. Instead of delivering the same amount of water across the entire field, precision irrigation systems allow you to match the amount of water you apply to what is needed in field’s different zones.
Since many fields have soils with varying water-holding capacities along with a range of higher and lower areas, precision irrigation systems allow users to adjust water levels to match the gamut of field conditions. Used in conjunction with soil probes, farmers can monitor soil moisture levels across the field and adjust irrigation systems accordingly to prevent over- or under-watering different areas. 
A variety of precision systems are available, ranging from ones that cycle nozzles on and off to change the rate of water application to types that allow you to control water application through individual nozzles. Depending on the age of current equipment, some irrigation systems can be retrofitted with precision irrigation technology.
Interfacing With Other Ag Technology
Precision irrigation offers a nice fit with technology such as the R7® Tool. Field maps that show soil variances and in-season imagery can be used to guide the proper placement of soil probes that will help regulate precision irrigation applications. Throughout the season, in-season imagery will also allow farmers to monitor the effectiveness of the water placement within each field zone, so adjustments can be made as needed.
These systems could also be used to make variable-rate applications of crop nutrients, fungicides and other products. Data collected each season will provide a wealth of information that can be used when making cropping decisions for coming seasons.
For more information about the value of precision irrigation for your operation, contact your local agronomist or WinField representative.