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With the Help of Flow Meters, an Arizona Grower Makes Every Drop Count

When water resources are limited, every single drop counts. 

Shelby Thwaits’ farming operation is located near Pomerene, Arizona – an area that’s considered drought country. He said he sees an average of 10 inches of rain a year and, in some years, he’s seen a year’s worth of rain fall in just a few weeks.

His 550 acres are located above a shallow water table, which feeds four Zimmatic center pivots and a lateral system that water hay, cotton, corn, alfalfa and produce.

“The well flows will fluctuate by a couple hundred gallons a minute during the summer, since we’re along a dry river and have shallow water. When we actually receive rain, the flows can fluctuate by 250 gallons,” he said. “We have quite a bit of variance, so we need to keep an eye on what we’re pumping.”

Growsmart™ IM3000 magnetic flow meters help take the guesswork out of Thwaits’ water usage. They are installed on all of his pivots – with two being in-pivot-riser units.

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“The riser pipe is the best spot for accuracy because, unlike horizontal pipes, the riser pipe is always 100 percent full,” said Christopher Higgins, global Zimmatic product manager. “Another benefit of our approach is that no heavy equipment is required and there is no cutting and welding of delivery pipes needed for installation, which saves growers money.”

When integrated into the FieldNET® remote monitoring and control system, Thwaits said the flow meters help save another important resource – time.

“I get an immediate alert when the flow goes down, so that I can either adjust my watering or re-nozzle to keep even water distribution. I don’t have to actually walk out there and check it,” he said. “It’s better to have the bad news quick rather than too late. You can lose the crop, especially if it’s really hot or you’re in a drought and you need more than just the day-to-day management of the water. We don’t receive enough moisture, so we have to keep close tabs on the ups and downs of water on the crops.”