When Washington potato grower Wes Boorman reviews his yield maps, one thing stands out.
“Our yield maps looks like our topography maps. The higher ground yields less, and the lower ground yields more,” he said. “To increase yields, we had to find a way to add water to the higher ground without overwatering the lower ground.”
The solution to Boorman’s challenge – Precision Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI).
“My local Zimmatic dealer, Irrigators Inc., added Precision VRI to my corner system in 2016,” he said. “We raise more than 1,100 acres of potatoes in loamy sand soil and a semi-arid climate – we have very little rain. With Precision VRI, we’re able to apply different irrigation rates to different areas of a field, which helps us increase yields. We also have a constant flow to match pumping capacity.”
Precision VRI gives growers the ability to customize, with pinpoint accuracy, the right amount of water or chemicals for each area of the field. Nodes control each individual sprinkler to turn on, off or pulsate according to field position and desired application depth. Each sprinkler is controlled by a field-proven magnetic latching solenoid valve that’s built to last.”
“With Wes’ corner, we are able to maintain 100 percent of the flow while traveling around the field,” said Aaron Sauser, sprinkler and VRI specialist at Lindsay Corporation. “To do this, we change the pulse rate and travel speed at the same time. As the corner is fully extended, the machine runs slower and we apply fewer sprinklers on the mother machine, sending the flow to the corner. As the corner closes down, we speed up the machine’s travel speed and turn more sprinklers on in the mother, or parent, machine. In doing this, we apply the same rate of water to all acres. This also allows us to reduce rotation time.”
Precision VRI is compatible with most pivot and lateral brands and can be integrated with FieldNET® for remote monitoring and control.
“FieldNET gives growers the ability to customize their water application and manage VRI remotely,” Sauser said. “It all adds up to less time in the field, less spent on valuable resources and greater control of their operations.”
Boorman said he’s been happy with the results he’s had since adding Precision VRI to his system, so he’s considering adding it to at least one of his competitor pivots.
“I would definitely recommend Precision VRI to other growers – especially those who need to apply varying rates of water on their field,” he said.