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    Irrigation Technology That Gives Farmers a Data Advantage

    by Bennett Fitzgibbon

    In modern farming, everything is focused explicitly on maximizing the few resources available for optimal product yield. That is why farmers are actively looking for modern irrigation technology solutions that can enable them to overcome the traditional farming barriers that have consistently led to poor harvest and expensive farm operations. 

    As a precision-based farmer, it's essential to pay attention to drip irrigation technology solutions and other Internet of Things (IoT) innovations that are currently changing the agriculture industry. 

    What is Irrigation Technology?


    Irrigation technology in agriculture is giving farmers new ways of watering crops that leverage data such as soil moisture or satellite imagery, along with sophisticated software and hardware to automate the execution of more informed irrigation schedules. Decisions that are data driven, enhance the accuracy of irrigation delivery times and the volume of water needed by crops. In a world where freshwater is becoming more and more scarce, new technology is essential in maintaining a healthy plant and reducing water wastage. 

    Besides reducing water wastage, farmers can benefit from huge savings on labor and other irrigation-related activities. 

    Other significant benefits of irrigation technology include:

    • Saving on minimized water wastage
    • Timely and accurate data collection for reporting
    • Overall cost savings on labor and management
    • Long-term soil health
    • Improved crop quality and health

    What are the Different Types of Irrigation Technology?


    As a farmer looking to make the most of the available water supply, you should evaluate and consider modern solutions that can provide a meaningful reduction of your water usage. But what are the different types of innovative irrigation technologies in the market today?

    1. Soil Moisture Sensors


    Soil moisture sensors focus on analyzing important data about moisture content in the soil to determine irrigation needs. Naturally, every field needs to maintain balanced soil moisture to keep plants thriving. However, when the soil moisture goes below the recommended levels, there's a higher chance that plants will suffer. 

    The purpose of soil moisture sensors is to collect essential data about water content in the soil. Smart sensors send details to the farmers, who can now decide whether the soil needs any watering. Importantly, these sensors are effective as they also send important data on electrical conductivity, soil salinity, and other crucial aspects. 

    2. Plant Sensors and Pressure Chambers (aka Pressure Bombs) 


    While soil moisture sensors are specifically designed to track water content in the soil, plant sensors have been influential in determining the amount of water in the plant. Furthermore, this seems to be an objective approach because it gets information directly from the plant. 

    Plant sensors can be attached to the fruits or the plant's stalk, and they help measure the minute-by-minute changes in the plant's water content. These sensors provide alerts to the farmers who can quickly detect irrigation needs through changes in the shrinking or swelling of plant cells. 

    Importantly, plant-mounted sensors have not been in the industry for many years. However, there's an increase in the number of crop producers who are currently interested in these sensors because they provide real-time information on irrigation needs. 

    Pressure chambers, also known as pressure bombs, measure the water pressure in the root zone and gives you a clear indication of whether the vine is well irrigated or water stressed. This gives you the ability to minimize stress levels when crops are young and ensure they’re kept well hydrated, and as they mature you can increase the stress levels to manage canopy growth and improve the quality. 

    3. Rain and Freeze Sensors


    Rain-sensing irrigation technology has been available for very many years. However, this irrigation technology has never been utilized in the irrigation system. That's why farmers are currently treating it as an innovation expected to bring a new dimension to the irrigation system. 

    Automatic irrigation systems are set to irrigate crops at certain intervals, which means they'll provide water to crops even when it is raining. As a result, rain and freeze sensors have become a fundamental addition to automatic irrigation systems. 

    Rain and freeze sensors alert farmers about the possibility of freeze or rain in the region. This helps shut down the automatic irrigation system and save water for future needs. These smart innovations have effectively prevented surface runoff and excessive water wastage. 

    4. Satellite Imagery (NDVI) 


    Farmers don't just need to understand essential concepts revolving around irrigation needs and crop health. They also need to have basic information about the environment and the location where they're operating. So, this is a welcome undertaking that can enable them to make appropriate irrigation and crop decisions. 

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery uses satellite images taken throughout the growing season to provide farmers with a visual representation of plant health and vigor. This gives growers a 50,000 foot view, literally, of their water distribution uniformity (DU) and problem areas. 

    5. Smart Irrigation Systems


    Unlike all of the technologies mentioned above that provide data inputs to help growers determine the optimal amounts of water required for crops, smart irrigation systems make it easy to execute the desired irrigation schedules, while also collecting valuable data for fast and accurate water usage reporting. 

    This is done through automatic scheduling. While irrigation controller technology isn't a new concept, it’s something that is still not widely used, due to a lack of user-friendly, reliable and affordable systems. However, this is changing as new tech companies with software backgrounds are developing state of the art systems that reduce the cost and complexity of irrigation automation .

    With automatic scheduling, you'll water your crops precisely, which means you'll no longer lose water. Besides saving on water, automated scheduling does not require manual intervention, which means you'll save on labor and lower production costs.

    Some smart irrigation systems will also use built-in flow meters to automatically record water usage for state reporting on water rights or sustainability requirements. 

    How Can Lumo Help?


    Lumo is a leading provider of smart irrigation technology for farming that can help promote the proper application of water for maximum crop health. The innovative irrigation system enables farmers to reduce costs, improve crop quality, and save water.

    Lumo uses smart valves with built-inflows meters, while providing an automated irrigation system focused on minimizing excessive water wastage by balancing the water needed by the crops and the actual water applied to your land.Learn more about how you can save water, improve crop quality, and reduce costs with a smart irrigation system by getting in touch with us here or by emailing us at [email protected]

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