Increasing water use efficiency through precision Variable Rate Irrigation is a primary focus of Virtual Agronomist. If irrigation is not fully optimized right from the beginning, then other factors such as nitrogen use efficiency often do not reach their full potential. Applying the optimum level of irrigation is more important than ever. As the single most valuable natural resource, applying excess irrigation is an unnecessary cost, leaches nitrogen and can even lower yields. Applying too little irrigation, and yield potential is now lost as well.
The solution is to optimally manage irrigation specific to the spatial variation present in the field as represented by EM and Landscape Change layers. Using EM data, variations in water holding capacity can be identified in both surface and subsurface soils. Using Landscape Change and slope derived from RTK (Real Time Kinematic) elevation data, Virtual Agronomist can identify run off areas and depressions that are prone to water logging. Rather than simply using off-the-shelf soil maps, these high resolution spatial data layers are the foundation of true precision management.
Managing the rate and timing of irrigation dependent on field variation is the next solution. This can be implemented independently or in conjunction with real-time soil moisture data derived from the Optimum Probe Location. Variable Rate Irrigation prescriptions segment circular fields into either pie slice-shaped sectors or zones dependent on the underlying spatial data. This allows growers to easily vary the center pivot irrigation application depth to increase the water use efficiency of each field. Improved irrigation management will often improve yield production quicker than simply applying Variable Rate Fertilizer. If areas of the field are either under-irrigated or over-irrigated, yield potential will not be maximized no matter what rate other inputs are applied.
Fields irrigated by SDI (subsurface drip irrigation) or gravity fed can also be divided into optimal irrigation management zones to improve timing and number of sequences throughout the season. In addition, optimal irrigation management zones can be smartly determined prior to design and installation of SDI systems.
And if you operate a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive), Virtual Agronomist can even help you optimally program your variable speed settings to save energy and water as elevation changes occur during pivot rotation.
The new VRI Optimization service provides growers a simple and affordable way to implement agronomic Variable Rate Irrigation management for most any brand center pivot.