Whether a multi-national farm operation with operations across the world, or a small family farm with ten acres behind the house, automation makes sense-most of the time.
July 24, 2018
Layout is key
Farms vary greatly in the way the irrigation system is situated. As Ag consultant Jacob Mullin from Ag Services points out “It is more about layout, crop type, and the source of water than about size of operation”. Some farmers are better off than others, having full rights to local water sources, and highly efficient Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) from one point of connection (POC). Others, are less fortunate and have to deal with tiered water rights from multiple sources, delivered by various methods. Municipal, pressurized water comes in from the South end, and metered river water from the east. Various wells make up other mid-way sections that supplement the needed demand. In the former scenario, a larger farm would be necessary to benefit significantly from an Irrigation Control system, such as IRRInet. This, give or take a few percentage points, would require a farm between 100-450 acres to justify the investment. The latter, would need a smaller farm to justify the investment of an IRRInet-Type water management system due to its’ inherent complexity. Keep in mind that other factors that we will explain will go into the equation.
LOCATION AND CROP TYPE
One acre of corn yields about $530 in gross profit, whereas an Avocado orchard yields over $5,000 per acre gross profit (average is dependant on location). This difference of nearly 10 fold means that the cost benefit of automating is 10 times more for avocado growers than for corn. Our own customer base supports this claim. Our largest Ag customers are corn, soybean, and other cash-crop producers in terms of acreage- as large as 85,000 acres, our smallest are avocado growers, as small as 11 acres in the fallbrook region. The location of the operation greatly affects the determinant of automation. Being located in the Pacific Northwest as opposed to the Central Valley will have a greater cost impact on the resources needed, and therefore, the cost cost-benefit.
Big Farm tools for Small farmers
Our flexible product line enables smaller farms to utilize tools that not too long ago only large operations could afford. The IRRInet system can be configured in thousands of unique options, that are suited for every farm. For instance, ICC PRO (Irrigation Control Software) is licensed per station, rather than a fixed purchase price. The smaller the farm, the less expensive the software is-and all the powerful applications and features remain.
Larger farm operations can take advantage of operator management, network, and interoperability functions, including: ICC PRO mobile, ICC NETWORK, ICC SERVER, and Motorola IRRInet IP FarmLink.
Meeting operational requirements
Our world is changing around us all the time, but so are our fields we farm. Every farm has its’ own requirements, and they change every moment. When it comes to irrigation, the demand on the operators and systems change constantly. The weather, the moisture, pH, pumping performance and demand, irrigation plumbing, and valves are always changing. Motorola IRRInet enables farms to analyze and respond to these changes in the moment, with the most efficient programs. When the humidity increases, and ET factors fall, less irrigation is needed in a specific area, over a certain amount of time. Flow decreases suddenly? A leak could be present, or a pump failing. Motorola takes action automatically and increases overall efficiency. This has dramatic effects on the bottom-line. Adapting irrigation schedules to changing conditions reduces resources expelled, while increasing yields. Reacting to leaks reduces water costs and other adverse side-effects., like penalties, or over watering. Other benefits include reductions in labor costs.