Increasing water use efficiency through precision Variable Rate Irrigation is a primary focus of Virtual Agronomist. 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 CropMetrics Soil Moisture Probe Optimization Program. 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 attempting 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.
The VRI Optimization service provides growers a simple and affordable way to implement agronomic Variable Rate Irrigation management for most any brand center pivot.