Dairy News - Nutrient control with irrigation

Dairy News reports that there's a new nutrient management tool on the market which allows farmers to exercise significant planning and control over application of effluent and chemical nutrients to their land. The key outcomes will include reduced water use, highly targeted variable application, reduced electricity use and ease of operation - all of which will ensure irrigated farming operations are effectively responding to environmental concerns.

Developed by the Lindsay Corporation the Precision VRI system automatically switches to a specified plan when the nutrients are being injected into the irrigation water line.

This enables farmers to assign resources to ensure efficient use of water and nutrients, yet preventing leaching and run-off, while maximising yields.

The system individually pulses sprinklers on and off, and controls the irrigator speed to modify the application depth along the length of the irrigator. Control of the irrigator speed and individual valves allows the amount of water and nutrients applied to each area to be carefully regulated.

Precision VRI can also be used to avoid irrigating over buildings, tracks, roads and non-productive areas. Buffered avoidance zones can be placed around environmentally sensitive areas and waterways.

Proof-of-placement reports analyse the nutrients applied, “helping farmers to justify responsible nutrient application,” the company says. Growers can produce reports from a 24-hour period right up to an entire irrigation season.

The technology is compatible with centre pivots, laterals, pivoting laterals and reverse pivoting laterals. It can be installed on new gear or retro-fitted.

Key benefits

Save water

Independent research has indicated that in any one year variable rate irrigation can save between 9 and 26% of irrigation water. These savings are possible through the use of the intelligent Precision VRI system enabling application rates over wet areas to be reduced and water completely turned off over tracks, drains, buildings and unproductive areas. 

Easy to use

The Precision VRI propriety software has been developed specifically for farmers, is easy to use and completely customisable. 

Change application rate over different crops or soil types 

Rather than farming to the limitations of an existing irrigation system, crops that require varying amounts of water can be grown under your current system, giving you the ability to maximise yields even in the most variable of soils. 

Reduce over-watering on laterals and part circles by running different forward and reverse plans

Precision VRI solves common over-watering issues inherent with many machine set-ups such as laterals, geo-laterals and part circles. For instance irrigation plans can be set up to ramp down application rates when approaching the reversing point for a part circle or lateral and then ramp up again when heading away from the barricade. The intelligent system can also detect when a geo-lateral changes from lateral to pivot mode, altering the sprinkler rates accordingly to even out the application. 

Decrease power consumption

As the system only delivers water when and where it’s programmed to there is no wasted pumping costs.

Less track maintenance

In areas where there are tracks, Precision VRI can be programmed to shut off, which means less erosion and decreased water use.