Friday, January 27, 2012

Pivot irrigation in Georgia

Center Pivots in Southwest GeorgiaIn Southwest Georgia there are more than 6,000 center pivots used to water peanuts, cotton and corn. Farmers have control over how much water the irrigation nozzles spray as they pass over fields. Small fields can vary in topography and soil types, with some places wetter or drier than other places in the same field.

VRI technology

The concept is simple: apply water when and where crops need it. Don't apply it where they don't. VRI technology uses computer maps, global positioning systems, soil sensors and software to control where and how much water the nozzles on a center pivot spray on crops.

Growers want to irrigate more precisely, but don't have the time or level with higher-tech gadgets. The more time-consuming technology steps have been eliminated to make the system easier for farmers to use.

Instead of having to create computer maps of fields, this system has a simple "push-button" feature. A farmer can start the center pivot over a field. When it gets to a location he doesn't want to apply water, the farmer pushes the button to train the system not to water that area. Once the system passes this area, he pushes the button again to resume watering only the crop. This can be done in as many as 8 locations in the same field.

The water efficiency of VRI has been tested on farms in Georgia and found it can reduce the water use in a field by as much as 15% annually without sacrificing crop yield.

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