Smart farming or precision agriculture has been gathering momentum in recent years and irrigation is a prominent feature.
The question is why should irrigation be smart or precise? We met with Dr. Yoav Zeif, Netafim's Head of the Americas and of Product Offering and Marketing to hear about Netafim's smart irrigation solutions to the problems facing farmers in this age of global warming.
Iincreased food production is needed to feed the world's burgeoning population despite ever decreasing arable land and natural water sources. Research predicts that by 2030 there will be a 30% water shortfall, while data shows that some 80% of current water sources are devoted to agriculture with only 20% of farmland being irrigated.
The most effective method of reducing irrigation water consumption is by using precision irrigation systems that maximise water use and increase yields thus maintaining profitability for farmers.
Yoav cites an Illinois corn farmer who, for years, had farmed rain fed fields of poor quality soil, which together with unstable weather, had made him feel like a gambler. He installed a Netafim drip irrigation system managed by monitoring and control devices and his yield immediately increased from 160-180 bushels per acre to 280-300 bushels per acre. The new system allows him to irrigate the corn exactly when needed and to deliver fertilizers precisely, based on the corn growth cycle.
| Netafim Weather Station
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What is so special about the precision system?
Current systems in the market allow the farmer to monitor only some of the key indicators in his field. However, Netafim's vision is to provide the farmer with a smart delivery system that will allow him to deliver to each plant the right amount of water, nutrients and crop protection materials in real time according to the plant's needs. In recognition of global developments, Netafim will be launching its advanced irrigation system that combines Monitoring, Optimization and Control in one system, allowing the farmer to optimize the use of water and fertilizers remotely achieving greater profitability per unit area and significant improvement in his quality of life.
Netafim's system comprises of three elements:
- Monitoring – all crop related data: soil, water, vegetation and weather.
- Optimization - a Cloud based system where the data is processed and displayed in the form of Irrigation and Nutrigation operating recommendations. This "System's Brain" is based on agronomic knowledge that was developed in Netafim over the last 52 years.
- Control and Delivery – When the farmer gives the go ahead, the system translates the recommendations into a fertigation and irrigation program that is delivered to the field via Netafim precise drippers.
In addition to the benefits for the farmer, the system is also designed to reduce environmental damage. The ability to monitor nutrient delivery reduces nitrogen usage with its attendant environmental impact while maintaining nutrient delivery and immediate growth enhancement.
|NetaJet -Netafim Automated nutrigation system
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Who is it for?
The new system has considerable benefits for all types of farmers. For the modern farmer who uses monitored irrigation and understands that the system provides him with much hitherto unavailable knowledge and data, as well as for the farmer who never irrigates and needs to make a quantum leap – it provides all the necessary information and, when needed, assists in decision making.
The system was developed in partnership with the company that developed Israel's Iron Dome. Netafim provides its extensive experience, knowledge and algorithm but most importantly the system will be simple and accessible to farmers who perceives technology advancement as a tool.
Knowledge is strength and in this age of global warming and dwindling natural resources there is no doubt that Netafim, the largest automated irrigation company in the world, is in a position to benefit farmers by providing them with the most relevant knowledge for managing their farms effectively while reducing costs, maximising resources, thus increasing yields and profits.