For the irrigated farm, producers have a rising amount of information for decision-making. From comprehensive weather information to in-field sensor data, you just know more about what's going on out there. What do you do with it?
This is driving the next opportunity for irrigation companies — enhanced controllers. Eco-Drip, a longtime driver of row crop use of drip irrigation is launching the Eco III Pro controller. "This is a comprehensive control system that can manage a drip irrigation system in many ways," says Eric Elle, product development manager.
He rattles off the versatile control options including multiple-zone control, time to apply water, flow rates, fault detection, applying based on percent of evapotranspiration, and decision-making based on water in the soil profile. "We can control the entire farm from this controller," he says. "And farmers can manage their systems from anywhere using the device of their choice."
This controller, designed for drip and micro-irrigation systems, can interface with in-soil sensors to "know" the amount of water that needs to be pushed into the soil profile. The system can manage a range of irrigation setting options, and it can independently control and set valve application parameters across the farm.
One area of interest is managing water by knowing evapotranspiration. "We can generate that information through the controller using weather data," Elle says. "We connect to the on-farm weather station for that information, and the controller can apply water based on that data."
Tighter water control
The system has the connectivity tools for use in monitoring a system as well. The Eco-Drip Konect Service is a website that collects, archives and presents a farm's data in a range of ways, but keeps information secure. By enabling this service, a producer can see what's happening across all zones in the system using a smartphone or tablet.
And there are tools a farmer can use to provide targeted access to that information to trusted advisers, too.
An area of growing interest is the web-based dashboard that provides an at-a-glance view of what's happening. For pivot controllers this has been available for some time; the Eco III controller brings that functionality to the drip irrigator. With a dashboard view, you can see how each zone is working, and make changes as needed based on other information you may have.
The system can also provide a range of alerts during operation to keep you informed if things go wrong, or if you just want status updates.
The controller can interface with a range of sensors, Elle says. "We can collect information from soil probes and moisture sensors that can be used for irrigation decisions," he says. "And it can integrate with fertigation equipment for nutrient management, too."
From the controller, where a touch screen is your connection to the device, the user can control and monitor irrigation settings, too. "We have different irrigation modes built in," Elle says. With built-in options for irrigation, the system eliminates the need to do complex calculations or programs. Simply select what you want the system to do through a series of short menus — and get started.
Learn more about the Eco III controller at www.eco-drip.com.