Precision Tech Irrigation Practices Save Water While Yielding Healthy Crops
CALIFORNIA - With water conservation being one of the biggest issues in agriculture today, it’s no wonder that precision irrigation is moving to the forefront of many farmers' minds.
Hortau, like a number of other precision irrigation companies of late, has caught the eye of investors, and earlier this month received $5 million in financing from Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners.
As we’ve previously reported, John Bison, Hortau’s newly appointed Irrigation Specialist said, “Hortau is really changing the game,” adding that most clients using the company’s soil tension monitoring system have changed their way of watering of using Hortau.
Hortau’s soil tension monitoring system seeks to achieve maximum results with minimal water amounts by acting as a “mechanical root,” according to the company. As it measures how hard a crop’s roots are working to extract water from the soil, the system reports precisely how much water is necessary to growers in real time.
For farmers like Will Gerry of Coastal California Blueberry Farm in Camarillo, precision irrigation practices have become an integral part of his growing operations. Gerry points out to Tech Crunch that blueberries are extremely sensitive to dry or overly wet conditions, so he uses Hortau’s precision technology to monitor plant stress and soil moisture levels in real-time. The wireless, solar-powered stations are equipped with soil and temperature sensors that report to the web in real time how his crop is faring.
Using a smart phone, tablet or computer, Gerry is able to make irrigation decisions based on the live soil tension/moisture/temperature data. Tech Crunch reports that by using an online dashboard that graphs out plant stress thresholds, Gerry knows exactly when he needs to turn on his computer-automated drip irrigation system and when to turn it off once an optimal amount of water and nutrients have reached the root zone.
For more on Gerry's work using Hortau's system, watch the short video below.
California is expected to lose about 33 percent of its surface water supply this year, Tech Crunch writes, and even is expected to fallow 6-7 percent of the state’s annual irrigated cropland. If these conditions continue, more and more growers may have to start adopting precision irrigation practices.
In addition to precision irrigation, famers also have access to the following precision ag practices:
- GPS-guided tractors and harvesters
- Weather data monitoring
- Automated irrigation systems
- Variable speed pumps
- Aerial imagery
- Drip irrigation
“By using precision irrigation management tools, local growers are able to be more proactive in the field and not only reduce water consumption but improve crop health and production,” Gil Luera, an Irrigation Management Specialist for Hortau told Tech Crunch. “It’s a critical part of the industry right now, finding innovative ways to grow more with less, and a lot of our local growers should be commended for the precision irrigation practices they’ve adopted.”
Even before we get into the hottest summer months, the drought has already led to economic losses of an estimated $2.7 billion and 18,600 jobs, according to results published in “Preliminary Analysis: 2015 Drought Economic Impact Study” by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
AndNowUKnow is always looking out for the latest agricultural technologies, so stay tuned as we continue to report on future innovations.