Irrigation's Next Best Friend

January 31, 2009 06:20 AM

Take advantage of technology to check pivots without running out to the field over and over again. Irrigation systems that employ Web-based monitoring save you time and provide peace of mind.

Irrigation firms including Lindsay, Reinke, T-L and Valley offer systems for remotely monitoring pivots and updating settings—right from your computer without going to the field.

Control your watering practices and simplify your irrigation workload with technology systems that provide pivot programming, monitoring and control functions.

Several of the technology systems are compatible across various brands of irrigation systems. The monitoring equipment is integrated into the control box or through an additional mount on the pivot tower.

Just as you can rely on GPS to automate machinery steering, you can use the technology to help drive your irrigation efforts. The GPS receiver can be part of the control panel or mounted externally and wired in.

Data on pivot positions, settings and water usage can be viewed and controlled via secured Web sites or through mobile devices. Data can be received with a small time delay, or packages can be upgraded for real-time reports.

Kip Cullers farms 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans near Purdy, Mo., and holds the world record for soybean yield as well as many top titles in corn yield contests. About half of the acreage he manages is irrigated.

For More Information
Visit these sites to learn more about equipping your irrigation equipment with monitoring and controlling technology.

Cullers uses the GrowSmart system from Lindsay on nine of his center pivots. "The more pivots you've got, the more time this system saves," he says.

The yield champ programs pivot settings from his office computer and receives performance updates during the day via his cell phone. A radio transmitter on the control panel sends the data to his mobile device.

Time-saver and then some. Cullers says the technology's advantages aren't limited to time savings. The system can eliminate trips to the field or help minimize your multitasking when you head to the field.

"I'm in all of my fields every day at least once a day," he says. "But now I can scout fields without being distracted by also checking pivots."

Cullers understands that there is approximately a three-hour delay when receiving the cell phone alerts, but with more than 5,000 acres to manage, a three-hour delay is minimal during the growing season.

Transferring a management concept from his contest fields, Cullers has a unique approach to how he irrigates. He waters in smaller increments more often and his timing includes watering corn at night and watering soybeans in the heat of the day.

Systems can be set up to send text message or e-mail alerts. They are typically available in two tiers of functionality, the basic system providing information and the more advanced system providing control of pivot settings, including end guns.

You can e-mail Margy Fischer at

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