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.
- Automate sites selected for nighttime irrigation so that the appropriate watering rate can be achieved.
- 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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