Zimmatic Blog

FieldNET™ Nets Big Advantages for Botha Farm in Botswana

Jun 14, 2021

FieldNET™ Nets Big Advantages for Botha Farm in Botswana

Open valves near the field. Climb into the pump house to switch on the pump. Climb back out to start the pivot. Check for problems. Reverse the process two hours later.

Turning on a pivot at the Botha family farm in Botswana, South Africa, used to demand time and energy. Now the process can be done from anywhere at the touch of a button. By adding FieldNET remote irrigation, Chris Botha and his father have greatly simplified the management of their eight-pivot operating system.

While seven of their eight pivots are Zimmatic®, all are operated by a FieldNET control system. Two of the pivots have six towers each, while the other six pivots have four towers each — making it more manageable for staggered planting. Every circle is divided into quarters with different planting and harvesting times.

A third-generation farmer, Botha plants 173 acres (70 ha) of onions and 99 acres (40 ha) of potatoes in an intensive management process. All the nutrients and pest management agents are applied through the pivots, and all the applications can also be controlled from his cell phone.

Constant Improvements Through Technology

To keep up with the latest irrigation technology, Botha works closely with experts from his local Zimmatic dealer, Obaro.

Years ago, Botha experienced challenges with the cell phone connection he was using to access FieldNET due to the local power company’s load-shedding, or intentional shutdowns to prevent failure of the entire power system due to demand. Back-up power on the farm kept the pumps and pivots running, but without working cell towers, it was back to manual control.

Together with Obaro and Lindsay Africa, the distributor of Zimmatic equipment and FieldNET technology in Africa, the team came up with a tailor-made solution to combat the problem: Ethernet.

Ethernet is a way of bringing internet to rural areas. It offers connection in many different forms, including WAN, ADSL, 3G and satellite. This means solutions can be tailored to match the requirements of each farm, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. On the Botha farm, all the components are on a Wi-Fi system, speaking to one another through the control center in the United Sates by satellite. Reaction time is immediate.

“With Ethernet connections, I’m not dependent on fickle cell phone signals and towers,” Botha said.

FieldNET Delivers Precise Irrigation Applications

Botha is a self-proclaimed technology junkie. Even before remote control of pivots became an accepted practice, he rigged his system to switch on and off using radio control.

“It worked, but it sounded like a police station with all the ‘ding-a-lings’ going off,” he said. “Using FieldNET is so much better, and you can even use FieldNET Advisor™ for agronomic advice. The service calculates precision irrigation applications based on soil type, specific crops and climate information.”

He noted that in one field you can have multiple soil types, each with its own irrigation needs. “With the FieldNET precise GPS control, you can apply exactly the correct volume of water over the correct time period in every section of the circle to make sure the water is available for the plants when and where they need it most,” he explained.

“The FieldNET platform continues to improve,” Botha said. “As farmers, we only need to keep up.”

To learn more about the FieldNET line of remote irrigation management tools and how it can help you save time, money, water and other inputs, talk to your local Zimmatic dealer or visit www.myfieldnet.com.

“Lindsay Africa: Zimmatic brings the Internet to your farm” originally appeared in ProAgri magazine.