Over seventy years ago, pivot irrigation forever changed the way farmers delivered water to their crops. Pivot irrigation proved to be superior to older methods in numerous ways—it is less labor-intensive, and requires significantly less water. However, over the past few years, new communication and computer technologies have revolutionized irrigation systems, allowing farmers to automate their pivot irrigation systems for greater efficiency than ever before. Today, farmers across the country are discovering that in today’s agricultural market, utilizing these advances is crucial to staying competitive.
Before making a decision to install an automated pivot irrigation system, it’s important to consider the system capabilities, options available, and benefits. The beauty of automated systems is that they can be customized to fit each individual farm’s needs.
At the heart of any automated system is the technology that allows a farmer to communicate from a central location with each center pivot machine. Two technologies have been used for this: cellular communication, and UHF data radio modems. However, while cellular technology has become ubiquitous in the day-to-day lives of most people, it has many shortcomings for farming applications. Its reliance on third-party cell tower providers means users must pay ongoing monthly fees and/or data charges, and more importantly, even the occasional dropped signal will cut off communication between units. UHF systems such as Raveon data radios solve this problem by creating direct and reliable data links between units, using radio frequencies with a range of up to fifty miles.
At their simplest, UHF data radio modems allow a farmer to remotely control entire pivot irrigation systems from a central location such as the farmhouse, adjusting settings efficiently and easily. However, with additional equipment, many functions can be automated to meet a farmer’s specific needs.
The system can be connected to sensors that monitor external factors, such as weather and soil moisture, and the farmer can set each pivot irrigator to automatically adjust for these factors and deliver an appropriate amount of water. An automated system allows a level of precision and efficiency in making these adjustments that is impossible to achieve in a traditional system.
Another main benefit of automating a pivot irrigation system is that the farmer can use special sensors to monitor the status of their equipment continuously. Mechanical and electrical problems, issues in water pressure, etc. can be detected early on, before crops are impacted or damage spreads to other parts of the system.
As water resources grow more limited and conservation efforts become more important for the future of farming, automating pivot irrigation systems can significantly reduce the amount of water needed for crops to flourish. In standard systems, where it’s difficult to adjust quickly for unexpected changes in the weather, water is often wasted on soil that doesn’t need it, and there’s the potential for overwatering. With automated systems, farmers can be sure every drop of water is going where it’s most needed.
Farmers today face many challenges. Fortunately, they also have access to a wider array of technologies than any past generation. Automated pivot irrigation systems will help farmers stay competitive in the agriculture industry. As part of these systems, Raveon data radios provide an excellent communication solution for farmers at a low cost and with unparalleled reliability.