Every year, precision agriculture gets a little more precise. This year Lindsay Irrigation is adding a new precision feature to its already popular FieldNET remote irrigation control system — the FieldNET Advisor. The feature is designed to help producers measure crop water needs and create a prescription for optimum, variable rate irrigation across a pivot.
"One of the best things about this tool is that it doesn't require any additional hardware. A lot of farmers already have remote monitoring systems and remote control of their irrigation. This takes that technology and marries it with 40 years of knowledge about when and where the crop needs water, along with detailed, highly localized weather forecasting," says Brian Magnusson, Vice President of Technology at Lindsay.
The system gathers information as the pivot runs, recording when, where and how much water was put down. It adds that to all the other data it collects and does the complex computations necessary to give the farmer a prescription for precision irrigation, along with a forecast of what his seasonal water needs will be.
"This tool tracks the crop's growth, rooting depth, the temperature and all other variables related to the crop's water usage, rainfall and applied irrigation to determine how much water is available in the soil and combines it with the 15-day forecast to tell you just what your irrigation needs will be," Magnusson says.
The prescription can take a variety of special conditions into account, Magnusson says. For example, if a producer begins irrigating then stops the pivot, the system records what part of the field was irrigated and what wasn't so it can adjust the prescription to add more water to the unwatered area.
"A farmer may have started planting part of the field and had to stop for whatever reason — rain, emergency or whatever. He gets back a week later to plant the rest of the field. He now has crops at two different stages of growth under a single pivot. With this system, he can adjust irrigation to the need for the crop at each stage of development."
Magnusson says many farmers also have corn on one half of a pivot and alfalfa or soybeans on the other. The FieldNET Advisor can compute the need for each crop and adjust irrigation accordingly.
Magnusson says the FieldNET Advisor will also work with mobile drip irrigation systems such as DragonLine.
The FieldNet Advisor is available from Lindsay dealers on May 15.
The price is $450 per pivot.