Western AgTech Solutions, LLC WATS
Based on extensive research with partners, WATS has published numerous papers. Some of these also appear on the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) website for the Agricultural Irrigation Initiative. WATS worked with NEEA, industry partners, and leading academics to deploying pragmatic technology solutions that help farmers irrigate more efficiently. Applying a little technology saves money, increases crop production and quality, and conserve electricity. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (NEEA’s) mission is to accelerate the market transformation of emerging technologies that conserve electricity. The Following Publications help farmers improve their crop quality and yield using a variety of new technology solutions, and also helped industry partners improve product functionality and usability.
The first paper is a brief tutorial in the basics of soil science as it relates to irrigation. It identifies key terminology used in other reports, as well as key concepts about how soils hold water.
Most farmers apply a uniform depth of irrigation across the entire field. The problem is that fields vary considerably in soil moisture content across the field. The higher sandy slopes will tend to be quite dry, and at the same time the low lying swales may be saturated. This paper explore one solution for that dilemma is to vary the speed of the pivot, irrigating more slowly over dry zones, and speeding up over wet zones. This paper discusses methods for mapping field soil types, and then using those maps to irrigate more effectively. The results show quite a dramatic improvement in crop yield and crop quality for a relatively modest investment in hardware and time.
The next paper is a survey of equipment used during NEEA's demonstrations. It describes basic operations, what worked well and opportunities for improvement on a range of soil moisture sensors, telemetry devices and other instrumentation used in the demonstrations.
A Center Pivot irrigation system should be a fine tuned instrument. Growers using center pivot irrigation systems generally schedule irrigation based on the driest ten percent of a field. While this approach meets crop water requirements for most areas, it can over-water others. The challenge of uniformly meeting crop water requirements is compounded when the amount of water applied by the center pivot’s sprinklers varies significantly. Improving the distribution uniformity (DU) of irrigation water plays a large role in both water and energy conservation. This paper outlines a proposed process to quantify pivot DU, and identify areas of the pivot that would benefit from a tuneup.