GSR did an installation on a Macadamia plantation. Contact David for access to the demo site and see for yourself the value of irrigation scheduling. Save water and electricity whilst increasing crop quality.
It's a win-win situation!
Enjoy the slides! Hopefully you will come to love Sensorian Telemetry as much as we do, not only are they extremely photogenic, but they are tough!
South Africa is classified as a semi-arid country with 465mm of average annual rainfall. This is below the global average estimated at 860mm per annum. Roughly 20% of South Africa receives less than 200mm and 47% receives less than 400mm yearly.
The figure below indicates the rainfall distribution.
Figure 1: South Africa’s Mean Annual Precipitation (MAP) (Source: Schulze 2011)
Water use for irrigation agriculture takes place on an estimated 1.1% of South Africa’s total land surface area, often in low rainfall areas where supplementary irrigation needs are very high or total irrigation is practiced. A relatively inefficient mode of irrigation was found to be in use in most cases.
In 2000 eleven of the 19 catchments listed in the table below indicated a negative water balance. In South Africa’s major catchments local water demands exceed the reliable local yields.
Table 1: Reconciliation of water availability and requirements for 2000 (million m3/annum) (Source: DWAF 2000) (* refers to the amount that can be reliably provided 98 years out of 100, with ecological reserve requirements already subtracted)
The figure below indicated South Africa’s water usage by sector. Irrigation comprises nearly 60% of total water consumption. Irrigation water usage in agriculture was 6907 million m³ in 2002. This was 87% of the total water allocation for irrigation purposes (7920 million m³) as reported by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
Figure 2: SA water use by sector. (Data Source: DWAF 2000)
We are looking forward to the Levubu Macadamia Study Group on 19 October, 2017. We will be giving a lecture on irrigation scheduling and automation technology and look forward to meet all the mac growers.
Compaction and water saturation of soils are the main barriers to soil oxygen transport, water being a more effective barrier (Papendick and Runkles, 1965; Moldrup et al., 2000a; Neale et al., 2000). The diffusion of gases in water is slower than their diffusion in air by a factor of 10⁴ (Call, 1957; Moldrup et al., 2000a; 2004; Thorbjorn et al., 2008).
Suzanne DeJohn (2017) summarizes this problem adequately "Soil that’s too wet can also cause wilting, as excess water pushes air out of the soil and suffocates the roots." Plants need oxygen to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Waterlogged soil essentially "drowns" the root-zone, impeding the biological and chemical processes necessary for healthy plant growth and crop production.
As indicated above, irrigation scheduling reduces waterlogging problems, therefore assisting with soil aeration by minimizing the most significant barrier to soil oxygen transport i.e. too much water.
Farmer's Weekly posed in interesting question with one of their September, 2017 articles. Essentially they asked "How many harvests are left in your soil?" Maria-Helena Semendo, speaking at World Soil Day (2016) stated that the world's topsoil could be gone within 60 years should the current degradation continue. Some of the main causes of soil degradation include chemical-heavy farming methods, deforestation, erosion and global warming.
Professor Raj Patel points to runoff water from farms often contaminated with high volumes of fertilizer and other chemicals as being a culprit. “The story of industrial agriculture is all about externalizing costs and exploiting nature,” Patel states.
South African farmers are already taking the lead by becoming more ecologically accountable, by incorporating green farming practices and turning to sustainable farming methods and water conservation. One of the methods South Africans employ are irrigation scheduling, or the precise control of irrigation.
The question now remains how does irrigation scheduling and sustainable farming form a beneficial symbiotic relationship?
The Journal of Experimental Botany describes irrigation scheduling as "conventionally aimed to achieve an optimum water supply for productivity, with soil water content being maintained close to field capacity. In many ways irrigation scheduling can be regarded as a mature research field which has moved from innovative science into the realms of use, or at most the refinement, of existing practical applications. Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a wide range of proposed novel approaches to irrigation scheduling which have not yet been widely adopted; many of these are based on sensing the plant response to water deficits rather than sensing the soil moisture status directly (Jones, 1990a)."
"Irrigation scheduling is conventionally based either on ‘soil water measurement’, where the soil moisture status (whether in terms of water content or water potential) is measured directly to determine the need for irrigation, or on ‘soil water balance calculations’, where the soil moisture status is estimated by calculation using a water balance approach in which the change in soil moisture (Δθ) over a period is given by the difference between the inputs (irrigation plus precipitation) and the losses (runoff plus drainage plus evapotranspiration). Soil moisture measurement techniques have been the subject of many texts and reviews (Smith and Mullins, 2000; Dane and Topp, 2002)" The former category relying on direct soil moisture measurement is a more reliable method, especially with hourly measurements as current data cancels the need for additional data. Continuous data adapts and reacts to changing weather and other variables that would otherwise make precision irrigation scheduling a guessing game. The Journal of Experimental Botany indicates that the "the water balance approach is not very accurate".
With increasing water restrictions and unpredictable dry-spells irrigation scheduling is fast becoming a crucial tool for sustainable farming. A farmer is able to accurately control their water usage through irrigation scheduling and thereby contribute to sustainable farming practices. Therefore the farmer cannot afford to use inaccurate methods of irrigation scheduling as this would impact on crop yield and soil health.
According to Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia "Water is considered as the most critical resource for sustainable agricultural development worldwide. Irrigated areas will increase in forthcoming years, while fresh water supplies will be diverted from agriculture to meet the increasing demand of domestic use and industry. Furthermore, the efficiency of irrigation is very low, since less than 65% of the applied water is actually used by the crops. The sustainable use of irrigation water is a priority for agriculture in arid areas. So, under scarcity conditions and climate change considerable effort has been devoted over time to introduce policies aiming to increase water efficiency based on the assertion that more can be achieved with less water through better management" (Konstantinos Chartzoulakis, 2015).
Precision irrigation scheduling, therefore, would become a critical tool for farmers. Precision engineered equipment (probes, nodes, valve actuators and web-based software) are vital tools of the trade that allows the farmer to essentially "see" in the soil and therefore make informed decisions about watering needs.
Irrigation Scheduling has several advantages. Apart from the obvious decrease in water usage farmers find the following to be true:
Adding #valve #actuation / #automation to irrigation scheduling will further enhance the benefits as #probe data can determine the length of irrigation required and shut of valves in real-time.
The importance of irrigation scheduling is that it enables the farmer to apply the exact amount of water. This increases irrigation efficiency. A critical element is accurate measurement of the volume of water applied or the depth of application. A farmer cannot manage water to maximum efficiency without knowing how much was applied. This is where valve automation becomes critical. As the units are linked on the same software platform real-time, current data can determine the irrigation requirements, thus maximizing the usage of available water.
The AGFO Expo came to a close Saturday, 16 September. The E-Irrigation team had a ton of fun and met a treasured new friend and reseller, David Guthrie. From here E-Irrigation will head to Western Cape. We haven't forgotten about our "Plaas Besoek" event and look forward to meet the farmers of Olifantsriver Valley who invited us.
Enjoy the photos from the expo!
We are proud to welcome David Guthrie to our team! As our official reseller in the Lowveld, we could not be more excited! GSR has a wide range of innovative products, the Hog, featured below, being one of them.
Once again, welcome!
Electronic Irrigation Solutions will be at AGFO from 14 - 16 September. We will be teaming up with GSR at the event and look forward to meet the colorful people of Mpumalanga. Macadamia farmers be sure to take a peek at our exhibition, we will change the way you think about irrigation scheduling guaranteed.
After the AGFO Expo we will be heading to Western Cape on a little tour we like to call "Plaas Besoek". We invite all farmers in the Western Cape to drop us an invitation to visit their farm and introduce them to Sensorian and the best form of irrigation scheduling and automation.
We decided to enlarge our social media footprint by creating Twitter, Instagram and Google+ accounts. Please bear with us as these accounts gain momentum, since our Facebook page is still the main means of transmitting information. Search us and add us!
Google+: Electronic Irrigation
Facebook: Electronic Irrigation Solutions
Happy farming and see you at the AGFO Expo!
The Pecan Conference was a huge success with many potential clients asking about Sensorian. A very special thank you goes out to Sensorian for sponsoring the launch at the conference.
Our ad in the Sandvelder looks stunning. The online edition can be viewed at the following link: www.sandvelder.com/sandvelder-uitgawe-21/
The South African National Pecan Conference is a few days away, advertising material will be rife at SA Pecans in Hartswater where the conference will be held. We want to show our customers and visitors what our sexy little add will look like. Evergreen Fairway is undergoing a name change (Electronic Irrigation Solutions).
Keep your eyes peeled for Sensorian. We will knock the proverbial socks off of irrigation scheduling and automation.
We are getting our gear ready for the South African Pecan Conference in Harstwater that is taking place next month. Enjoy some sneak peaks at our sassy display sponsored by Sensorian. Guests will be able to see our automation system (AVC) in full action with a special display case.
14 to 15 March 2017
Electronic Irrigation Solutions will be attending the South African Pecan Conference on 14 and 15 March 2017 in order to launch an exciting new irrigation scheduling platform!
Sensorian, Developed by Donix, will be the ultimate irrigation scheduling platform that allows one to automate and use irrigation scheduling on one sleek platform. Everything is web based. We can't wait to introduce Sensorian to the world...
This gateway unit (currently in development and to be released in March/April 2017) will connect directly to household WiFi, allowing the Router Gateway to utilize the client's current Wifi router to communicate with scheduling software. Essentially it means clients gain more independence and control over their irrigation scheduling.
Data usage of the Router Gateway is minimal (up to 8mb a month) and would not cause lag in the client's internet connection, nor can the client's Wifi password be hacked via the gateway unit. The Router Gateway and system software is protected with strong encryption, that same encryption would be present in the new development to protect the client's privacy and preserve data integrity.
This new gateway unit would truly upgrade the Router Gateway system to a full-blooded WiFi System.
Ideal for smaller operations the GSM unit communicates directly to the scheduling software. The unit functions independently and connects directly to the probe. Various add-ons can turn the GSM unit into a mini weather station, affording the user more precision over their irrigation scheduling and watering needs.
Technical Specifications of the GSM:
-SDI 12 compatible
-Rechargable battery with solar panel
-GPS add-on option
-Support for Davis Rain Gauge, digital temperature and humidity sensors
The wireless system allows the farmer to effectively use the irrigation scheduling program on a large scale. The AVC integrates seamlessly with this system giving the user a unique platform where irrigation scheduling and automation is married.
Technical specifications of the Router Gateway:
- One router supports up to 20 probes and up to 50 AVC units
-Converts 6LowPAN communication to GSM
-Supports up to 20 mesh devices
-Over the air firmware updates support
-Solar / battery powered
The Router Gateway is responsible to communicate probe data to the software program, however it is the nodes that communicates probe data to the router. The wireless mesh network allows the nodes to search for the shortest path to the router, ensuring effortless communication.
Technical specifications of the nodes:
-Connection up to 700m distance with a clear line of sight
-SDI 12 compatible
-6LowPAN network communication
-Battery / Solar powered
-Onboard temperature sensor
-14 days logging for 5 sensor probes at one hour sampling intervals
-Over the air firmware updates support
The Automated Valve Control is certainly a special piece of technology. Developed by Sensorian, this little box has a few surprizes hidden beneath the sleek exterior.
Some Technical Specifications:
-Drive 2 or 3 latching solenoids
-Solenoid output power up to 24W
-Adustable solenoid drive pulse output
-On/Off 24hr schedule per valve output
-Forms part of a mesh telemetry network
-Flow Pulse count input
-Pressure transducer input
-Continously battery powered with solar panel and MPPT charger
-NEMA4, IP65 enclosure
-6LowPAN network communication
-5 cycle, 24hr schedule
-Over the air firmware updates support
The AVC paired with the wireless system makes it the only automation and irrigation scheduling system that is offered on one platform. That makes for some effective irrigation scheduling.
The AVC has a sleeker design for those concerned with issues of theft. The KZN build, as pictured above, has been specifically designed to discourage solar panel theft and damage, whilst retaining all the features.
Paired with a pumpstart unit the AVC will operate on virtually any pump system.
We all need a good introduction!
Our Italian blood demanded that we take matters in our own hands regarding irrigation scheduling and valve actuation / automation. Agriculture is experiencing a technological makeover and e-Irrigation partnering with Sensorian and Donix are taking the lead in providing some sweet technology.
Our main focus is ease of use and convenience. Who wants struggle with complicated graphs, wasting precious time trying to understand an overly complicated program, when your attention was much needed somewhere else? We understand that your time is precious, and your challenges you face are unique in your orchard. That is why we pride ourselves on being problem solvers.
It makes sense after all that irrigation scheduling should embrace the digital era.