Auto­mat­ic irri­ga­tion is the use of a device to con­trol irri­ga­tion facil­i­ties, in which a change in the flow of water from bays can occur in the absence of an irri­ga­tor.

Automa­tion can be used in sev­er­al ways:

  • start and stop water­ing through the out­lets of the sup­ply chan­nels
  • start and stop pumps
  • block the flow of water from one area of ​​irri­ga­tion — a bay or a sec­tion of the chan­nel and direct water to anoth­er area.

These changes occur auto­mat­i­cal­ly with­out any direct man­u­al effort, but you may need time to pre­pare the sys­tem at the start of water­ing and main­tain the com­po­nents in order for it to work prop­er­ly.

The benefits of automatic watering

Advan­tages of auto­mat­ic water­ing:

  • reduced labor
  • time­ly water­ing — plants are watered as need­ed
  • con­trol of high­er flow rates
  • accu­rate water shut­off com­pared to man­u­al check
  • reduced runoff of water and nutri­ents
  • reduc­ing the cost of vehi­cles used to test irri­ga­tion.

Disadvantages of automatic watering

The dis­ad­van­tages of auto­mat­ic irri­ga­tion are:

  • pur­chase, instal­la­tion and main­te­nance costs of equip­ment
  • reli­a­bil­i­ty of the irri­ga­tion sys­tem (due to human error when set­ting up)
  • increased main­te­nance of chan­nels and equip­ment to ensure their prop­er oper­a­tion.

Before installing automatic irrigation

Farm plans with irrigation

Devel­op a plan for the entire farm for your prop­er­ty.

When devel­op­ing your farm plan, con­sid­er hav­ing auto­mat­ic irri­ga­tion as part of your plan­ning process so that you can enable some of the fea­tures you need to auto­mate from the start. This may include chan­nel design for chan­nel automa­tion if pos­si­ble, or it may be the use of bays and oth­er chan­nel struc­tures that are suit­able for automa­tion at a lat­er stage.

Automatic watering installation

When it comes to installing irri­ga­tion, there are sev­er­al ways to get start­ed.

  1. Auto­mate sites select­ed for night­time irri­ga­tion so that the appro­pri­ate water­ing rate can be achieved.
  2. Auto­mate those areas that are dif­fi­cult to water — sec­tions of short, steep bays that require more fre­quent pres­ence of the irri­ga­tor or require fre­quent shifts.

What you need to know

Automa­tion is not only suit­able for those areas of the farm that have been laser sort­ed. Areas not affect­ed by the laser can also be auto­mat­ed. This may include automat­ing chan­nel designs to irri­gate por­tions of areas not exposed to the laser.

Using infor­ma­tion from the whole farm plan, chan­nel struc­tures to be used in devel­op­ment work can be pur­chased and used to auto­mate these non-laser areas. This can be done with the knowl­edge that the designs will be usable after the devel­op­ment work.

Choosing the Best Automated Watering

All automa­tion sys­tems have their advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, which must be con­sid­ered when decid­ing which sys­tem is suit­able for the irri­ga­tion scheme for a par­tic­u­lar site. There is no sys­tem that would be the best sys­tem for all prop­er­ties.

If you need a sys­tem that can be moved around the site and pos­si­bly used on oth­er sites, you need to con­sid­er portable sys­tems.

If you want a sys­tem where the com­po­nents are fixed and can fol­low the same irri­ga­tion sequence every time you water, a fixed sys­tem will be more suit­able.

When deter­min­ing the best sys­tem for real estate, you need to con­sid­er:

  • sys­tem cost
  • back-up sys­tem main­te­nance
  • which sys­tem is best for your prop­er­ty and irri­ga­tion scheme.

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