Growers increase ag water efficiency with agtech
February 14, 2023
Smarter irrigation water use with less allocations
Agriculture uses 70% of global freshwater, and without reliable water supplies, farmers are carefully considering precision watering practices and agricultural technologies.1
Dry farming practices reduce water use, but it usually results in lower yields and may be too drastic of a change. Instead, monitoring soil moisture and paying closer attention to soil health can help reduce evaporation and runoff. A one percent increase in soil organic matter can increase water storage potential on an acre by more than 20,000 gallons, according to Natural Resource Defense Council’s soil team.
Drip irrigation systems are designed to convey water to plant roots on a schedule. Controlling the amount of water distributed and the timing can minimize evaporation. This process innovation can reduce water use by as much as 60% based on crop and location, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tata Center for Technology and Design. Researchers reported an “and increase crop yield by 90 percent compared with conventional irrigation methods.”
As of 2018, 72% of all irrigated cropland acres in the western U.S. “used pressurized irrigation systems.” These included drip irrigation systems and sprinklers. Benefits from these systems increase when they’re pair with sensors and IT.2
Remote monitoring helps control water delivery and electricity costs. It also identifies water leaks before they become larger system failures with grower-defined alarms or alerts to smartphones and tablets.
In addition to in-field sensors that measure soil moisture and local weather in real time, precision satellite weather forecasts and agronomic models can give a preview of crop conditions in the near future. Knowing when and where rain will fall within the next three days lets growers conserve water and nutrients that would otherwise run off saturated soil.
Linking several water efficiency practices will yield greater water savings and agronomic value.
KISTERS is excited to introduce the FieldRay agrimet sensor-to-smartphone solution at World Ag Expo 2023. The crop-specific weather, soil moisture & irrigation water monitoring system empowers farmers to make smarter resources management decisions.
1Tariq Khokhar, “Chart: Globally, 70% of freshwater is used for agriculture,” World Bank Blogs, 22 Mar 2017.
2“Irrigation & water use,” USDA Economic Research Service, 6 May 2022.