Trends In Irrigation Management

There’s a demand for new irrigation technologies to manage yield and the amount of water used to produce the crops. Irrigation companies are responding with remote management software.

John Farner is the government public affairs director for the Irrigation Association. He says these innovations depend on what’s being grown and what the farmers are using.

"In Nebraska, for example, a lot of center pivots are used. Historically, a farmer would go out and manage the pivot by hand on-site. Now we’re seeing ways we can use a cell phone to manage exactly how much water is being used no matter where it is in the crop circle just by opening up your application on your phone," says Farner. "Variable rate irrigation, or VRI, is another one where those sprinklers in a center pivot can apply a different amount of water based on where they are in the circle."

Some systems are designed to help you make data-driven irrigation decisions based on a computer analysis of soil type, crop, development stage, weather conditions, and other factors.

Farner says they’re also excited about new cost-share opportunities for farmers to help them invest in these new technologies.

"You’re currently irrigating, and they’re interested in increasing their irrigation efficiency. They can cost-share with the federal government, so a 50-50 split, on investing in new irrigation technologies that can both conserve water and make the farmer more productive with that water use, so increasing yield, based on the amount of water used," he says. "It’s in effect now, but we’re changing some of the programming and money available, increasing that in the new Farm Bill which we’re really excited about."