In one pass across a field, Kentucky farmer Joel Armistead can find five to six soil types. That’s why the Adairville farm operator will be incorporating variable-rate speed control on his T-L Irrigation pivots starting this spring on his largest field.
His corn needs more water on the red soil hills than in the bottomland. Armistead also grows soybeans double-cropped after wheat. He farms 1,500 acres, 200 of which are under irrigation.
The process will begin when Veris Technologies creates a soil-type map of the farmland. Since adding irrigation in 2008, Armistead Farms has raised its corn yields by an average of 100 bu. per acre.
Now, Armistead hopes to further reduce his fuel costs while becoming more efficient with water application. He expects to spend between $3,000 and $3,500 in addition to the cost of an ordinary digital panel to equip his pivots with telemetry and variable-rate irrigation (VRI) capabilities.
Setup for farmers is minimal because CropMetrics works with T-L to build water prescriptions and equip the pivot panel to follow those prescriptions, says Ken Moore, R&K Pivots, who is Armistead’s pivot dealer.
Armistead pumps as much as 6" to 8" of irrigation water from a spring-fed river during the growing season, though that figure can drop significantly in a wet year. While he can do so without restrictions, he is planning ahead for a time when water limits could be enacted.
He anticipates adding speed control to additional pivots on an adjoining field once he has more data demonstrating the practice will help his bottom line.
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