Precision IrrigationFood and Sustainability 

Four Ways Precision Techniques Have Transformed Irrigation

The agriculture sector works as the financial backbone for any country because good agriculture practices and ample crop production act as reliable resources to meet the food demand and generate employment. Moreover, with the constantly rising global economy, the demand for food is increasing exponentially, which is severely affecting the agriculture sector as farmers are forced to boost crop production.

The agriculture sector not just fulfills the food demand for the global population but also creates great employment opportunities across the world. According to the World Bank, close to 30% of the world population is employed in agriculture.

The entire crop production process involves many aspects, and proper irrigation is one of the essential parts. Every year, many farmers in developing countries face huge losses due to the lack of irrigation facilities. Along with the challenges of providing adequate irrigation facilities, regularizing the use of water is equally challenging.

In recent years, scientists have made huge progress in modernizing the agriculture sector with the help of technology innovation. Precision irrigation is one such innovative technology, which is proving to be a boon to farmers in their farming process.

This article further explores different ways by which precision irrigation is impacting the agriculture sector.

What is Precision Irrigation?

Precision irrigation is an innovative method that evaluates the crop’s water requirement and implements an advanced system that encourages the production of good quality crops and reduces the wastage of nutrients, chemicals, and water.

The system involves scheduling the irrigation timings based on the data collected through sources such as sensors and drones. It also helps in estimating the right amount of water needed for the crops at the right time to avoid any wastage.

good quality crops

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, drones, telematics, robotics, and many more have had a remarkable impact on agriculture methods across the world. This has enabled remote farming, wherein farmers can control the irrigation time and amount while being away from the farm.

Owing to numerous benefits, governments worldwide have taken the initiative to adopt precision irrigation techniques to fulfill the increasing food demand. According to the BIS Research market analysis, the global precision agriculture market is expected to reach $10.93 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of 14.8% during the forecast period 2021-2026.

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Precision Irrigation Techniques

1. Drip Irrigation: The practice of drip irrigation has been around for many years; however, with the developments in technology, it has become more efficient and effective to use on a larger scale. This method is used for precision irrigation using pumps and valves that can be automatically or manually controlled. The amount of water released can be controlled even to the individual plan levels, which significantly reduces the water wastage and increases the irrigation efficiency.

Drip Irrigation.jpg
Figure 1 Smart drip irrigation technique

Apart from effective irrigation, this method is also useful for fertigation (fertilize and irrigate the crops simultaneously). Through this method, the nutrients reach directly to the plants and result in more effective crop production.

Although the drip irrigation system has many benefits, the challenge lies in the high cost involved in the installation process. It requires high investments, which can be out of reach for many farmers.

2. Global Positioning System (GPS) Technology: GPS has enabled the remote monitoring of fields which helps in the complete analysis of several field conditions. In the process of precision irrigation, GPS technology helps in the geolocation management of farming zones, utilization of variable-rate irrigation (VRI), and understanding data from soil moisture probes that impact the water availability and needs of the soil.

3. Monitoring and Automation: The advanced technologies have led to the development of systems that allow farmers to analyze real-time data on soil, weather, and suitable crop conditions to help them make informed decisions.

Such conditions not only allow monitoring of the field conditions but also helps control the irrigation systems remotely. Monitoring and automation are essential parts of the modern water management system in agriculture, leading to effective precision irrigation while saving water.

4. Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI): Each variety of crops needs a different kind of soil, topography, and nutrients to grow properly. The VRI system can allow farmers to assess the crop needs and provide irrigation variably.

Variable Rate Irrigation
Figure 2 variation rate irrigation

VRI mainly includes the management of fields in different farming zones. The system can also be broken down into managing a single plant. This system is applicable in large fields of commodity crops, vineyards, and horticultural operations.

By incorporating suitable controllers and software, the system can be integrated into most irrigation systems, including drip, micro-sprinklers, and overhead sprinklers. The usage of the system can be challenging and complex as it often requires a team of irrigation experts and engineers to handle the system.

Conclusion

Precision irrigation technology is the key to increasing crop production while minimizing wastage of important resources such as water. The installation of precision irrigation technologies needs large capital investment and proper training for farmers to control the system. Hence, the technology has mostly been adopted in developed nations such as the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Rest-of-North America, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and many more.

The high cost involved in the application of precision irrigation systems is a challenge for developing nations; however, despite this challenge, many emerging economies are adopting the technology.

Interested to know more about the growing technologies in your industry vertical? Get the latest market studies and insights from BIS Research. Connect with us at [email protected] to learn and understand more.

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