Variable Rate Irrigation

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Soon, irrigation could see hands-off technology entering the market in southern Alberta.

Together, with UBC’s LiteFarm & Ensemble Scientific, we are working towards building a community-driven, open-source irrigation system to benefit farmers around the globe. Farmers in southern Alberta can look forward to being among the first to test this system!

The new irrigation system is autonomous & dynamic; it will understand which spots need more water while limiting supply to the areas that already have good moisture levels. This technology will be able to take measurements from the soil, correlate it with the area’s weather data, and utilize that information to efficiently irrigate the field.

While the bulk of the work for this project is being done by LiteFarm & Ensemble Scientific to develop the computer systems and software for the program, our role will be to incorporate and run the autonomous irrigation system and record the results of the technology.

When the background work is complete and the system is ready to go, we’re stepping in. Next year, we’ll be connecting with a southern Alberta farmer to pilot-test the technology.

Hands off my irrigation!

With new technology comes new skepticism, as does any big change. Our goal to calm those worries and deliver the Field Tested Promise.

“We’ll be observing if the technology works as expected; is water going down where we need it, are the control pieces operating properly,” says Lewis Baarda, Field Tested Manager at Farming Smarter. “The goal of this technology is to reduce overwatering in low areas while getting water where it needs to get. If farmers can add 5-6 acres by not overwatering in low spots, we want to see them get those acres. It should be easy to achieve with this technology.”

With this new Field Tested project, our team will take a heavy-handed, hands-on approach to observing the trails of this hands-off technology. We will evaluate the technology and its impact on the field two-three times a week, evaluating its efficiency and efficacy. Our observations will guide the development of this technology.

As we continue to see harsher drought conditions throughout the years, water becomes an increasingly precious resource, especially in agriculture. Effective water consumption management will become more important as we move forward. Increasing the area of usable land by not overwatering low spots will lead to better and more efficient fields.

By the end of this project, we hope to provide farmers with a means to better manage water applications. While there’s been an increase in farmers changing to irrigated fields, reducing water usage allows for more irrigation during this expansion.

To read more about this project, you can visit the Variable Rate Irrigation project page!