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    How to Illuminate and Eliminate Irrigation Errors

    Wine grapes that have been dried out from under irrigating
    by Steele Roddick

    Irrigation errors are common. Water runs for too long, or not long enough, or not at the right time. Valves get forgotten about or missed, mistakenly left open or closed. The actual flow rate might be way higher or lower than expected. Sometimes an irrigation might not happen at all. 

    And, what’s worse, is that these errors are often hard or time-consuming to detect. No one has the time to manually check that every irrigation they scheduled was executed as intended. And so some errors might go unnoticed for a long time, while others might go unreported altogether. 

    These errors waste water and hurt crop quality—two outcomes that sure would be nice to avoid if possible. 

    Why It’s This Way

    This state of affairs is understandable for a long list of reasons. 

    Irrigation teams have hectic schedules. They’re often strapped for time and driving all over. They’re constrained by how quickly water can be pumped through irrigation systems and by how many working hours they have in a day. 

    Coordinating the timing of everything is complex at best, impossible at worst. It makes perfect sense why any given irrigation might have to run too long or be cut short, and how small mistakes inevitably creep in. 

    Meanwhile, viticulturists and vineyard managers often have very little visibility into the irrigation process, or none at all. Many have no way to know when the water was turned on or off, or exactly how much flowed through their system in between, and they certainly don’t have the time to manually monitor every acre to be sure. 

    With no efficient way to know what’s going on, there’s a clear lack of accountability. And with the real and binding constraints irrigation teams face, it’s no wonder that errors happen on a routine basis and are more or less accepted as a cost of doing business. 

    Why It No Longer Has to Be 

    This past summer, we worked with winegrowers in Napa and Sonoma to change this state of affairs. Using a combination of wireless smart valves with built-in flow meters and cloud-based software automation, growers were able to reduce, if not eliminate, manual errors and gain the visibility necessary to detect any mistakes that slipped through the cracks. 

    Irrigation automation is valuable and powerful because it completely eliminates the constraints that irrigators have faced in the past. If you can open and close valves with a tap on your smartphone, it doesn’t matter if you’re two hours away or at home in your PJs already off the clock. Even better, if you can schedule your irrigations in advance with a couple more taps, you can irrigate in your sleep. 

    Built-in flow meters and internet connectivity are essential because they deliver the data you need for accountability and peace of mind. Even if you’re not on site, you can see exactly how much water was delivered to each block. And when you wake up in the morning, you’re not left wondering what time your irrigation started or stopped, or if it happened at all. You can see for yourself on your smartphone or laptop, in a way that was simply impossible before. 

    The End Result 

    Lumo was started to radically reduce the amount of water used in agriculture by providing growers with the tools and technology they need to thrive. 

    Illuminating and eliminating irrigation errors is a big part of that project. It’s a step growers can now take toward producing higher quality crops while using less water. 

    In a world where water is scarce, there can be no waste. When every drop counts, manual errors and undetected mistakes can no longer be the norm. They must become a thing of the past. 

    We’re excited to make that vision a reality for more and more growers, who care about both profitability and sustainability, and about being good stewards of their land and water in the years to come. To learn more about how you can identify and eliminate irrigation errors faster, request a demo here or contact us at [email protected]

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