Originally published in PivotPoint Summer 2013.
Soil and topography can vary drastically within each field, making precise, uniform irrigation very challenging, even with the best irrigation equipment. Valley® Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) allows growers to increase yields by using water more efficiently.
“It’s an easy way to increase profitability,” says Valley VRI Product Manager Cole Fredrick. “Growers can look at their field data and make adjustments as often as they need to. When used properly, the return on investment should be very fast – between one and three years.”
GROWERS TAKE CONTROL
Patented Valley VRI allows growers to adjust the watering rate in a particular sector or management zone.
Based on an uploaded VRI Prescription, VRI Speed Control increases or decreases the speed of the pivot itself to provide the desired application depth along each sector.
“Growers can do this with any Pro2 or Select2 control panel, with a simple software upgrade,” explains Fredrick. “The sprinkler packages don’t require any change at all. TrackerPro or TrackerLT remote communication devices allow growers to use VRI Speed Control with a Valley Classic or ClassicPlus control panel, too – or even with a non-Valley machine.”
VRI Zone Control uses an uploaded prescription, too, but the sprinkler valves pulse along specified pivot zones to reach the right application depth within a management zone. This is perfect for pivots that go over ditches, canals, wet areas, roads, or other obstacles.
For Zone Control, a Pro2 panel and other hardware is required to control individual sprinkler banks for precise water application.
Valley VRI software helps growers and/or their Valley dealer create a VRI Prescription based on topography, soil data maps, yield data, and other user-defined field information. The QuickStart (QS) Prescription for Speed Control is custom-designed for individual fields. It can be uploaded onto new machines, so the grower can start using VRI benefits as soon it is installed, or the QS Prescription can upload to any existing VRI-Ready machines.
SAVING WATER AND ENERGY
In a 2010 Kansas field study, using VRI significantly educed field variability, and light-textured soils yielded well, even in a dry year. Also, 12 percent less irrigation was applied by using the prescription across the field,reducing water and energy use.1
Ahmad Khalilian, agricultural engineer at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, SC, conducted three on-farm test systems using VRI, which he believes will save 1.4 to 2.8 million gallons of water per year.
“Variable Rate Irrigation also means less energy for pumping, less water runs off the field, and less pollution reaches streams,” Khalilian says.2
“It’s definitely a good, sound investment,” says Fredrick. “I’m telling you, it’s worth it!”
For more information on Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) from Valley, visit www.valleyirrigation.com.
1 Variable Rate Irrigation 2010 Field Results for Center Plains Conference. Jacob L. LaRue, Valmont Irrigation. http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/irrigate/OOW/P11/Larue11.pdf.
2 Variable rate irrigation reduces water use, Impacts Magazine, Tom Lollis, Copyright © 2013 Clemson University, Clemson, SC. All Rights Reserved. Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, Tel (864) 656-3311.