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Flow Meters Go Remote
It’s been said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. For that reason alone, a number of producers who irrigate have been required to install flow meters in response to their local natural resource district (NRD) regulations and water allocations. Yet, there are plenty of reasons to use an irrigation flow meter besides keeping track of your water allocation.
Bill Kranz, Extension irrigation specialist with the University of Nebraska, says a flow meter can also be used to monitor irrigation efficiency, prevent overwatering, determine pumping plant efficiency, and detect any leaks or pump or well problems before they become severe.
“Unfortunately, some growers rarely look at the flow meter during the season, particularly if they only installed it to comply with NRD requirements,” he says. “Without periodically checking your irrigation meter, you don’t really know how fast you are pumping water and how much you have pumped.”
Just as remote management systems have made it easier to monitor and control a pivot, several firms now make it possible to remotely monitor flow meters. McCrometer, for example, recently introduced FlowConnect with ExactRead technology, which is described as “a built-in solution for collecting and transmitting flow data from McCrometer’s McPropeller and Water Specialties Propeller Meters.”
According to McCrometer, the remote metering capability is preassembled on new meters for simplified installation and can be retrofitted on existing meters in less than 30 minutes.
Lindsay also offers remote flow meter monitoring through its FieldNET remote monitoring system. Due to its FieldNET-ready capabilities, the company’s Growsmart magnetic flow meter can now be linked to FieldNET to allow you to monitor and chart flow rate and volume through the same system that monitors and controls pivot operation. With the new FieldNET M2 Connect, you can also connect to Lindsay flow meters that are not located at a pivot point.
Valley offers fully integrated solutions, as well. The Valley 3000 spool-type electromagnetic flow meter, for example, seamlessly integrates with Valley ICON panels for flow meter monitoring and reporting.
“We can also wire the flow meter into the pivot control panel so water flow can be read on the AgSense remote app right along with pivot position, pivot movement, etc.,” says Jeremiah Johnson of Central Valley Irrigation in Holdrege, Nebraska.
Valley panels with built-in AgSense can additionally accept any flow meter that produces a pulse output and can be configured to match the pulses of the flow meter. Likewise, Lindsay states that later in 2019, you will be able to connect to other brands of flow meters via FieldNET, making it a multibrand solution.
“We can also install a disc in a majority of flow meters on the market and tie it directly into the AgSense network,” Johnson says.
READ MORE: Remote-Control Irrigation Impacts
As another option, Johnson says smart irrigation solutions from Valley can calculate water flow based on pivot movement, pressure, the amount of time the end gun is on, etc. However, that information does not meet NRD recording requirements, even though the calculations have been very accurate. That still requires the use of a flow meter.
“There are still a lot of farmers who feel if the state or government requires it, it’s bad. I was probably a little like that at one time, too,” Johnson adds, noting that he is still involved in a family farm near Wilcox, Nebraska. “Now I look at the flow meter as a management tool, particularly now that I can read it remotely. I’m not under water restrictions, but I want to be a good neighbor and show that I strive to conserve water, as well.”