Precision agriculture has become a common term throughout farming. Machine guidance, variable rate technology, imagery, mapping and the list goes on. As part of a recent presentation, I spent some time questioning just exactly what precision ag really is. The best definition I was able to glean is as follows:
- A management system that is information and technology based, is site specific, and uses one or more of the following sources of data: soils, crops, nutrients, pests, moisture or yield, for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment (adapted from Precision Ag. 2003).
The next step for me was to look for a definition of precision irrigation and I really did not find any consensus on the term. So I posed the following characteristics which I believe help define precision irrigation:
- An irrigation system that is the extension of precision ag into irrigation. It is information and technology based; spatially and temporally specific; integrates soil, crop, nutrient, pest, applied irrigation, rainfall/moisture, historical yield, yield targets, input costs, regulatory limitations and other factors, and seeks a balanced outcome for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment while providing measurable feedback.
Valley® Irrigation has been a pioneer and leader in the principles of precision irrigation. With Irrigation Exchange™, Valley is taking another pioneering step by creating a way to connect its proven telemetry system, BaseStation3™, to other software systems being used by farmers to manage crop inputs, machinery, daily operations and the multitude of other critical farm operations.
Working with other leading agricultural technology providers, Irrigation Exchange makes it possible for farmers to bring all of their information together and take a comprehensive approach to irrigation, in concert with the principles of precision ag.
At Valley, we recognize that irrigation is one of several critical inputs having influence over successful cropping strategies. We also know that agronomy theory must be executed with an understanding of practical limitations.
Farmers have to make choices continuously and with every choice, there is risk. We know that intuition, art and luck are alive and well on the farm and have as much or more influence than science at times. The bottom line, Valley wants to empower farmers to make the best choices possible and Irrigation Exchange is another way we are demonstrating leadership in precision irrigation.