They say money can’t buy happiness, but we know it can certainly buy energy! With agricultural sprinkler systems, such as a Valley® center pivot or linear, there are many ways to conserve water, so we not only save money on pumping-energy costs, but we are also good stewards of water. Efficient agricultural sprinkler systems aren’t created by accident, nor do they continue to operate efficiently without a knowledgeable grower.
1. Efficient Crop Irrigation Systems
Valley and the Valley dealer network are always at work honing their skills and looking for new ways, new tools and new technologies for designing crop irrigation systems for the marketplace that are reliable, easy to operate and efficient at water application. Simply put, the first step in conserving water and reducing pumping costs is a well-designed system that spans from the pump to the last center pivot sprinkler.
2. Flow Rate and Pressure
The ideal flow rate for an irrigation system is a combination of factors, such as anticipated water application efficiency, peak crop ET, anticipated operational efficiency and irrigated area. A certain amount of pressure will be required to convey the water from the source, through the center pivot and out of the sprinklers with adequate pressure. The more total pressure required (referred to as total dynamic head or TDH), the greater the pumping costs will be at any given flow rate. Certain factors of the TDH are not reasonably altered or controlled, but many factors like the amount of friction loss due to the pipeline diameter selection in the mainline and center pivot spans, as well as the additional pressure for the sprinkler package, are under our control. On fields with substantial terrain or variable flow rate demands, products such as the Valley Pump Connect-VFD coupled with a VFD pump, can ensure the ideal, but not excessive, pressure maintained at the end of the machine.
3. Scheduling, Control and Management Technologies
A well-designed agricultural irrigation system becomes a tool to meet irrigation scheduling needs. Your irrigation scheduling decisions are often the most important when it comes to conserving water and reducing pumping costs, all while still meeting yield goals. Luckily, modern remote control, monitoring and management technologies, such the AgSense® product suite, make scheduling easier than ever before. Not only can you control and monitor your machine, but also you can monitor flow, pressure, soil moisture and weather, as well as wirelessly upload VRI prescriptions.
4. Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI)
There are many reasons to consider variable rate irrigation as a water conservation tool. In many fields, with soil variability, drainage issues, salinity issues, etc., scheduling alone cannot maximize the yield potential of all areas. In many cases, VRI is used for irrigation scheduling at a sub-field level. Crop yield grade and uniformity can be improved. Areas of the field that had typically become wet and saturated during the growing season can become dry and productive. Water application can be prevented in uncropped areas.
5. Efficient Sprinkler Packages
Efficient center pivot and linear sprinkler packages come in many different forms. Different soils, terrain, crops, climates and customer preferences have helped drive the large variety of sprinklers offered. With the help of your Valley dealer, be sure to explore the many options available to find an efficient sprinkler package tailored to your needs. A sprinkler package that has high water application efficiency and has as low of pressure as possible will reduce pumping costs; this is because the total amount of water pumped during the season and TDH will both be reduced.
As you explore ways to conserve water with agricultural sprinkler systems, be sure to consider these methods, as well as others. The main thing to keep in mind is using less water doesn’t have to mean lower yields; in fact, it can mean the opposite! Investing in well-designed and reliable crop irrigation systems that take advantage of modern remote control and monitoring solutions, VRI and high-performance sprinklers may be an investment up front, but in the long term may make your operation more profitable. For more information, please contact your local Valley dealer.
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