Most precision ag platforms focus on the basics of crop production, creating site-specific recommendations and variable rate prescriptions for seed and fertilizer, but few focus on water management. If you have been managing your seed, crop protection, and fertilizer with precision ag but feel you are still not optimizing your fields full potential, proper water management may be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Water management is a cornerstone of the Spot On Scripts precision ag platform. A farmer can do all the right things with seed, crop protection, and fertilizer, utilizing site-specific recommendations and variable rate prescriptions, but if irrigation is managed poorly, he/she will not achieve maximum net return per acre.
Applying to much irrigation keeps moisture levels near field capacity, which increases the opportunity to leach Nitrogen and Sulfur below the root zone. Applying too little irrigation will stress the crop and make it difficult for roots to uptake nutrients. Proper irrigation will keep enough moisture in the soil profile to keep nutrients in solution for easier uptake by the roots as well as keep residual herbicides active on emerging weeds and maintain enough space for rainfall storage.
With soil moisture probes, you can accurately know how much water is available to the plants, how much storage space you have for rainfall, and how deep the roots are. When paired with weather data and crop modeling you can apply irrigation timely and avoid over application. Avoiding over application saves money and preserves our natural resources. Most fields under pivot irrigation in the Midwest extract water from underground aquifers. Some semi-arid production areas have seen dramatic depletion of the water over time. In other areas, over fertilization and over irrigation has led to the accumulation of nitrates in the groundwater, which is a public health concern since drinking water is also extracted from the aquifer. This has caused some state and local government agencies to place restrictions on irrigation draws. With watering restrictions, it becomes even more important to ration water usage and apply irrigation at critical times to achieve maximum yields possible.
Norder Supply released its full-scale water management program through its Spot On Scripts precision ag platform in January of 2018. For more details, ask your Norder Supply Agronomist.