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Irrigation Algorithms Pinpoint Water Use

Computer algorithms can be an intimidating topic, but today’s data processing and automated reasoning capabilities certainly hold promise for increasing the efficiency of pivot irrigation. For example, Lindsay Irrigation’s FieldNET Advisor employs algorithms to management applications. Valmont Industries brings its own advanced irrigation technology with Valley Scheduling. Both systems are advantageous in that they offer intuitive irrigation recommendations that can be accessed by any smartphone, tablet, or desktop device in a matter of minutes. 

fieldnet goes worldwide

Albert Maurin of Lindsay says FieldNet Advisor was set up to accommodate 20 different crops. During initial setup of the program, the system asks you to enter the crop types, hybrids or varieties, and planting dates. FieldNET Advisor automatically combines this data with soil maps, local weather information, and irrigation history across the field then combines this with 40 years of soil dynamics studies conducted by universities and crop researchers around the world. 

By calculating the crop-growth stage and root depth to monitor the amount of moisture available in the soil, FieldNET Advisor then makes recommendations on when, where, and how much to irrigate, helping you improve water-use efficiency. Irrigation recommendations are automatically sent to your phone or computer through email or text messaging.

Valley’s Scheduling is also designed to help you make data-driven irrigation application decisions based on a computer analysis of soil type, crop, development stage, weather conditions, and other factors.

The irrigation management science incorporated into Valley Scheduling was initially developed and then introduced 10 years ago in Brazil followed by Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe, explains Ashley Anderson of Valley. “Consequently, the Valley Scheduling solution is used on nearly 5 million acres, supporting more than 45 commercial crops in 12 countries. We’re launching the technology worldwide.”

control watering by the weather

“One of the greatest benefits of Valley Scheduling is the time savings, since it eliminates the need for daily visits to the field and complex calculations you used to have to do yourself,” Anderson relates. “It also helps improve crop health and reduce disease, as it monitors potential crop stress due to over- or underwatering.”

One primary difference with Valley Scheduling is the ability to choose two different levels of service: Measured and Modeled. With the Measured service, connected soil moisture sensors and weather station devices in the field provide readings to the Valley Scheduling software to calculate an irrigation schedule. In contrast, the Modeled service provides irrigation recommendations developed from a proprietary algorithm and modeled data based on more than a decade of in-field results with real growers. 

Anderson says, however, with both Valley services, an agronomist or trained Valley dealer is involved to configure the essential crop and field data to ensure the program is set up properly and to monitor the data throughout the season. Using that data, the system makes irrigation recommendations based on local rainfall, temperature, humidity, soil type, crop growth algorithms, etc. 

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