Georgia Research Project Yields Promising Results
A research project in Georgia is yielding promising results, using “beyond basic” practices to improve water efficiency and reduce agricultural water demand.
“Reducing ag water demand is vitally important to the state of Georgia,” said Tom Mims, of the Brier Creek Soil and Water Conservation District. “We received a grant to evaluate irrigation management tools and determine the best techniques, software decision tools and soil sensor array technologies available to maximize use of variable rate irrigation (VRI).”
Using grant money and matching funds, researchers established an advanced irrigation demonstration/evaluation test field in Savannah – Upper Ogeechee region. A team from local Zimmatic® dealer C&R Industrial Services retrofitted an existing six-tower pivot with Precision VRI, FieldNET® remote management technology and FieldNET Advisor®, an advanced irrigation scheduling tool that delivers continuously updated, field-specific VRI plans.
“A major evaluation component of the grant focuses on irrigation management software, like FieldNET Advisor,” Mims said. “I believe this type of software will help farmers make better-informed, science based irrigation decisions applicable to sector VRI, Precision VRI and traditional, constant rate irrigation."
Preliminary results gathered from the 2018 corn crop are promising:
- FieldNET Advisor’s available water predictions closely tracked the Trellis soils moisture sensor network values.
- FieldNET Advisor’s total rainfall prediction of 20.86 inches tracked closely with the Decagon rain gauge measurement of 22.2 inches.
- The field zones irrigated using FieldNET Advisor VRI prescriptions used 57% less water – 6.37 acre-inches vs. 14.9 acre-inches.
- The FieldNET Advisor VRI prescriptions out-yielded the constant rate irrigation application for EC field zones 5.24 by 57 percent (248.37 bu/acre vs. 158.40 bu/acre) and 28 percent (219.6 bu/acre vs. 171.3 bu/acre) for EC field zones 3.96. Additional analysis will be conducted on EC 2.69, 1.41 and 0.14 field zones.
Reduced irrigation, using FieldNET Advisor VRI prescriptions, resulted in electrical power savings of $59.71 per acre as compared to the constant rate pivot.
"FieldNET Advisor enables an important technological advancement - delivering daily VRI plans that are dynamically optimized to account for changing crop development stage, root growth, weather, as-applied irrigation as well as soil variability throughout the field,” Mims said.
Also involved in the Brier Creek project are the Janus Research Group, Inc., Phinizy Center for Water Science, Savannah River RC&D, the University of Georgia Precision Ag Team and the city of Augusta. The project is set to wrap up in December 2019.
Previous posts in our Smart Irrigation Month series are available at: