Improved irrigation monitoring is anticipated for farmers using Rain Bird agricultural irrigation products after the company’s acquisition of ClimateMinder. That’s because the ClimateMinder system enables operators to automate data collection from irrigation sensors and wirelessly
control irrigation equipment using battery- and solar-powered stations that are connected to the Internet. Some of the tasks that can be performed with cellphones or other wireless devices include viewing sensor information, defining irrigation schedules and setting text alerts based on real-time readings. "We’re very focused on supporting our customers with products and resources that will help them increase profits and improve sustainability," says Mark Ensworth, director of Rain Bird’s Agriculture Division. "The ClimateMinder organization embodies that same spirit, making it and its products an excellent fit with Rain Bird." For more information about the technology, visit www.rainbird.com.
Upgrade Engines, Fuel Research
Farmers can earn more than $4,000 toward the purchase of a new propane-fueled irrigation engine as part of an incentive program offered by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC). Participants in PERC’s Propane Farm Incentive Program get a $400 incentive per liter of engine displacement up to 10.3 liters. In exchange, they will provide feedback and performance data for a year, which will be used to develop future propane products.
Eligible equipment is listed at www.agpropane.com, where farmers can submit an online application and get additional details. The equipment must be new and certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and/or the Cali-fornia Air Resources Board to qualify. Nearly 40% of U.S. farms use propane to run engines and other functions, the council says.
Optical Sensors Control Flow
The new RG-11 Rain Gauge uses beams of infrared light to detect rain and shut off irrigation systems. The manufacturer, Hydreon Corporation, says that the device is equipped with a microprocessor, making disabling and re-enabling systems more precise than other shutoff equipment on the market. Evaporation rate and soil conditions are factored into the irrigation control algorithm, although the device isn’t affected by wind. A single unit is about the size of a tennis ball and costs $59. While the company does not have much experience with agricultural systems, says technical office manager Ben Gryskiewicz, the RG-11 should be able to work in conjunction with just about any system that needs a rain sensor. It functions by outputting a simple relay closure that shuts down the irrigation system to which it is attached. For additional information, visit www.rainsensors.com.
Battery-Powered Water Flow Meter
The new Sitrans FM MAG 8000 electromagnetic flow meter is battery operated, offering water-management flexibility to farmers for crop irrigation. The meter combines the Siemens MAG 8000 transmitter and a specialized sensor, which helps track irrigation use to prevent water loss. The unit offers a 0.8% rate of measurement accuracy and has no moving parts, reducing the need for maintenance. It can operate securely in flood-prone areas or underground. The battery has a life expectancy of 10 years. Other features include bi-directional measurement capabilities, leak detection and data logging. Optional communication modules can be added to ensure the flow meter is current with the latest available technology and to facilitate data transfer via e-mail and SMS. More information about the meter is available by going to www.industry.usa.siemens.com.