By Katie Englin
Smart Irrigation practices include using precise irrigation tools and good irrigation management decisions for proper irrigation scheduling. Irrigation scheduling is the process of applying water to crops at the exact frequency and amounts needed. It involves studying, understanding,
applying, then monitoring and controlling essential instruments such as soil moisture probes and flow meters to ensure efficient use of energy and water in crop production is achieved. Proper irrigation scheduling minimizes the waste of water and nutrients, supporting conservation while maximizing crop yields. How do you know when to apply water? How do you know how much water to apply? You can’t manage what you don’t measure, making the flow meter an integral component of an efficient irrigation system.
Three reasons why using an irrigation flow meter is a smart business practice:
1) Improve crop quality and increase yields – You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Today, virtually every input on a farm is measured from electricity used, to fertilizer applied, to pesticides applied, etc. Even runoff is typically measured. It only makes sense to measure how much irrigation water is used. Using the right amount of water on the field at the right time, and in the right place, can improve crop quality, reduce energy and fertilizer costs, minimize top soil erosion and increase yields.
2) Determine pump efficiency and quickly identify irrigation system problems to save $ – Any time the pump is on, water is moving and costs are being incurred. Where variable speed drives are used, associated costs can include both fuel and electricity. As a management tool, a flow meter can help an irrigator find the best efficiency point for their system, in turn saving fuel and ensuring your pump is running at RPMs that will maximize its life expectancy, and save money on costly pump repairs, fuel and/or
electricity. In addition to pump efficiency, a flow meter can be used as a system diagnostic tool, and tell growers critical information about the health of their irrigation system. Rate and totalization information provided by a flow meter can help users identify irrigation system problems early such as leaks, so they can be corrected quickly. Catching problems early, can result in swift fixes, reduced down-time and reduced maintenance costs.
3) Know how much irrigation water you used this season to help you plan for next season – Historical records of water use can allow growers and irrigators to make smart decisions on managing their fields. Just as underwatering can result in decreased crop yields, overwatering can have similar effects. Historical data on water use enables growers to better understand how weather patterns, including drought can affect a growing season. Additionally, water supply allocations and reductions are an unfortunate reality for many growers, and historical data from a flow meter can help you understand how much water you’ve needed in past seasons to help plan for future growing seasons.
Whether your method of irrigating is by center pivot, drip, micro-irrigation or other, a flow meter is an essential tool for every irrigation system. They provide valuable information about water use and irrigation system efficiency and help irrigators manage and schedule irrigation more precisely, in turn maximizing crop quality and yields while conserving the world’s most precious natural resource.
Smart Practices. Smart Technology. Smart Business.
Katie Englin is an Agricultural Irrigation Specialist with Seametrics. Seametrics, a TASI flow business, is a designer and manufacturer of a wide variety of flow metering and submersible sensor products. Since 1990 we have provided innovative solutions to users in irrigation, fracking, water treatment, groundwater, surface water, and chemical processing applications. Our products have a reputation for durability and accuracy at a competitive price and are sold through a network of domestic and international distributors. Located just south of Seattle, our Kent, WA
factory is home to both our engineering and production groups. We employ just-in-time manufacturing methods and have a high commitment to continuous improvement as demonstrated by our ISO 9001 quality management system. Our focus on innovation, product value and customer accessibility has resulted in over two decades of continuous growth. Seametrics is dedicated to helping conserve the world’s most valuable resource by providing our customers with precision flow meter and environmental sensor products.