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How to Know When to Stop Irrigating
Going into each growing season, we at AgSense ask ourselves how we can continue to add more value for our growers. We are really good at remotely controlling irrigation pivots and pumps, monitoring soil moisture levels, flow, and current weather conditions. However, we are not agronomists. That’s why we partner with many ‘Best of Breed’ agronomic software companies, rather than trying to be a ‘One Stop Shop’. This concept of cooperation we call the ‘Three Legged Stool’ of irrigation management (grower, equipment dealer, agronomic trusted advisor).
As we approach the end of the irrigation season one of the questions that often comes up is, “when do I stop irrigating?” According to Nick Lammers with CropMetrics (one of these ‘best of breed’ agronomic software companies) there are three things needed to develop a strategy for scheduling your last irrigation:
(1), Have a crop model that is accurately depicting the stage of growth of the crop in the field you are working with. It is important that this crop model uses the actual crop stage and NOT the estimated, based on historical averages. Planting dates, emergence, hybrid/variety differences and GDU accumulations vary from year to year. Once the crop model establishes the days to physiological maturity, you can estimate the amount of water the crop will need to maturity.
(2) Know the volumetric water content of the soil by determining the amount of available of water stored in the soil. The AgSense Aqua Trac Lite is compatible with numerous capacitance soil moisture probes. Monitoring actual available soil moisture acts as a real-time gauge to make sure you have enough soil moisture to reach maturity. By having live data from the field, you can confidently determine when you can stop irrigating.
(3) An accurate weather forecast, which is the last variable to be considered in your strategy. Weather is often unpredictable and forecasts aren’t always on target, but the value of accessing an accurate extended forecast can add another layer of information to help determine when to stop irrigating.
With all three of these tools, timing the last application of water becomes much easier to accomplish. Using AgSense along with industry leading agronomic software, such as CropMetrics can add value to your operation by maximizing the efficient use of water and increase yields. Lastly, seek advice from your local trusted advisor. They are a great resource for information.
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