On Our Plate: Precision Irrigation = Precision Conservation

Posted by on August 1st, 2017 | 0 Comments »

Every July, the Irrigation Association celebrates Smart Irrigation Month, an initiative to “promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation technologies, products and services in landscape, turf and agricultural irrigation.”

Managing and conserving water use in agriculture is critical for the sustainability of our food and agriculture systems.  Globally, 70 percent of the water extracted from the world’s rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for agriculture, and this will rise to 89 percent by 2050 if technologies and practices for water management are not improved.

Smart irrigation technologies are a critical component of today’s precision agriculture systems. Precision systems can monitor irrigation, farm vehicles, livestock, greenhouses and stables, aquaculture, forests and storage of crop and livestock products and can reduce the amounts of water and fuel that are used.

These precision systems make it possible for farmers to practice “precision conservation” by maximizing the productivity of each field, while placing less productive areas into conservation or creating refuges for pollinators.

Through the use of equipment such as in-field monitors and sensors, farmers and service providers can record data on  temperature, rainfall, soil conditions and plant growth, capturing the information for analysis and to generate models that help them make good decisions about operations and investments.

Machinery equipped with precision systems of parallel steering, GPS and data history enables farmers to cover every inch of the field and avoid even the slightest overlap, saving time, costs of seeds, inputs and fuel, and reducing wear on the equipment.

Remote sensing is widely used with satellite imagery to collect data. Unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly called drones) are used to fly over fields and generate maps and assess crop health. Source: 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®)

Precision agriculture technologies can also reduce water use in livestock production. Livestock monitors track food and water consumed. They also check animals for breeding cycles and disease, notifying farmers of potential problems before they spread to the entire herd.

Read the articles below to learn more about precision irrigation and its role in productive sustainable food and agriculture systems.

Getting Smarter During Smart Irrigation Month
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, July 31, 2017

Testing Ag Performance Solutions
University of Nebraska Water for Food Daugherty Global Institute, July 10, 2017

State steps in to help farmers reduce water use
Camarillo Acorn Online (California), July 28, 2017

You can save water and money during Smart Irrigation Month
Miami’s Community Newspapers, July 15, 2017

Co-Management of Energy and Water Resources Conserves Groundwater in India
2014 GAP ReportGlobal Revolutions in Agriculture: The Challenge and Promise of 2050

 

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