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What is precision irrigation? It seems to be the rage around irrigated farming but it seems to be difficult to define. In this blog post we are going to give precision irrigation a definition and then help you determine if it is achievable on your farm. Let’s get started!
What is Precision Irrigation? Answer – “A irrigation scheduling and implementation system which encourages healthy root development, reduces nutrient, chemical, and water waste, while maximizing input utilization within every zone, on every field.” Is it really this simple? Then why is it so complicated and appear to be, “so expensive”? Because if not implemented with a specific future goal in mind, it can be expensive and occasionally, unsuccessful.
Below are three key components to implementing a TRUE precision irrigation program on your operation.
- Know why YOU or YOUR ORGANIZATION should get involved in precision irrigation – It is not easy to sort through all the noise to determine if precision irrigation is right for your operation. Yet we encourage you to ask the question, “Could precision irrigation across my operation help my operation be more profitable”? This is not a question a pivot dealer, precision Ag specialist, or even your agronomist can answer. It is a question only a farmer can answer with great leadership from people who will ask the right questions. Not give the “right” answer. Contact CropMetrics or your local CropMetrics Precision Data Specialist and we will walk you through the process and determine if your operation could benefit from precision irrigation.
- Know exactly where you are starting from – This may sound super simplistic and it is. But if you decide precision irrigation is right for you, then starting right is vitally important. Occasionally thousands of dollars has been spent on certain setup that just wasn’t needed. The questions below will help you better understand how to evaluate getting started on your farm:
- What irrigation equipment do we currently have and is it in good working order? This is an important first step. If the current hardware is not functioning properly then it will be hard to make it function precisely.
- Who do I currently have on my team to help me establish a solid foundation for precision irrigation? Teammates may be someone who works for you, or it may be a local dealer who provides services to you. Either way you will need to know that those on your team are working with your best interest in mind.
- Agronomically what are the biggest profit limiting factors I would need to address first with water? Knowing this upfront is what will make sure you focus on purpose and not product. Not every field will need every component to make great profit improvements. The fields with the most variability are the ones where you will see the biggest results. Even those fields you have attempted variable rate seeding or fertilizer on, will normally see drastic improvements with variable rate water the very first year. Often because in variable rate seeding, we are attempting to address a water issue in many irrigation settings.
- Accepting that precision irrigation is a management change and will get easier and more profitable with every year – Everyone has an existing irrigation management system in place. To move into a precision irrigation management system is going to require some changes. This won’t always be easy, but a quality Precision Data Specialist can help ease the stress of change. Our goal at CropMetrics is threefold when we are working with our farmer clients:
- Establish solid expectations for success
- Reduce stress in irrigation
- Increase profitability
These three steps are vital in making the lifestyle changes need for a long-term management change. Stay tuned to upcoming blogs on “how” precision irrigation works agronomically.
Please reach out to your local CropMetrics Dealer or contact CropMetrics direct to evaluate your farm’s opportunity with precision irrigation.