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Precision Agriculture

Irrigation Technology

Plant growth and development relies on adequate water supply for transpiration, photosynthesis, and respiration. Irrigation is used to meet plant water needs when rainfall amount and timing is inadequate. Several irrigation methods and technologies are available to deliver water according to the crop type, field size and shape, water source, and even budget available. The most common methods of irrigation are: Surface, Sprinkle, and Drip. Among those, sprinkler irrigation, mainly center pivots sprinkler irrigation systems, is the most common in row crops agriculture.

Precision Irrigation is key to deliver the right amount of water needed at the right time and the right location. Several sensors and controls are used today to provide different irrigation solutions. Although most farmers still use uniform application of water over crop fields, variable rate irrigation (VRI) adoption is increasing. Variable rate technologies, some of them similar to the ones used on sprayers, are now available for surface and drip irrigation systems. Some of the main components of a VRI are: pivot control panel, VRI control panel, Solenoid valves, Control nodes, GPS system, variable frequency drive, remote map upload, and a remote control system. These components allow application of different irrigation rates over different areas on a single field. Another important component of precision irrigation is the estimation of the right irrigation rate at the right time. Several sensing technologies, soil and crop sensing technologies along with telematics, and Internet of Things (IoT), are not available for irrigation scheduling.