Water Efficiency Key to Irrigating
Cole Fredrick, product manager for Valley Irrigation, explained the value of VRI in a nutshell. “We are able to put the water where it is most needed in the field. This allows the best possible use of the resource we have. VRI can result in water savings, crop uniformity, reduced runoff and potential yield increases for overall profitability. We can easily tie VRI into our remote management products, TrackNET and Base Station to more efficiently use the growers’ valuable time.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF REINKE MANUFACTURING COMPANYTouch-screen controls are another programming possibility for VRI. Paul Meyer, sales and marketing support manager, Reinke Manufacturing Company, Inc., noted that his company’s systems “provide precision application of water to various parts of the field by means of sector and zone VRI.” What’s important for VRI, Meyer explained, is the irrigation prescription written with “software capable of processing yield, soil and elevation geo-referenced data for the purpose of applying water where it is needed most.”
Meyer added, “When water supplies are limited, VRI can be used to concentrate efforts at maximizing yield on the better soils and terrain within each field. During extended periods of drought, areas of the field normally requiring the most water now receives the least.”
T-L Irrigation Marketing Director Ryan Weber said, “Managing rate and timing of irrigation is key in optimizing crop production. Increase in yields is the main concern, but improving energy and water use efficiency has become equally important.”
As Weber mentioned, energy conservation has to be a consideration for farmers, along with water conservation. Lower costs for pumping water is something in which farmers are always interested, and that is why many farmers are open to changing from a diesel-powered irrigation pump to a propane-powered pump. The price for propane has decoupled to a degree from the price of gasoline and diesel fuel so that propane engine operation is economical enough to achieve payback for the cost of a new engine in one to two years for many producers, according to Mark Leitman, director of business development and marketing for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).
PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDSAY CORPORATIONVariable rate irrigation controls allows for turning specific water sprinkler nozzles on and off depending on the terrain where a pivot operates. Additionally, PERC has been offering a $400 incentive per liter of engine displacement, up to 10.3 liters, or a maximum $4,120, to farmers who qualify in buying a new propane-fueled irrigation engine from certain manufacturers. That incentive program is ending or ended for 2013 but is likely to repeat for 2014 purchases.