Technology is developing at a rapid pace, and it’s a good thing too – at a time when our natural resources are under severe pressure, more and more producers and private individuals are looking towards smart systems to ensure that they are making sustainable choices when it comes to the maintenance and upkeep of everything from large-scale crops to small home gardens.
What exactly is smart irrigation?
‘Smart irrigation’ refers to automatic watering systems that leverage technology to optimise water use. Also referred to as ‘digital farming solutions’ these cutting-edge systems provide the user with the ability to monitor and control their water use much more effectively than ever before, based on decision support from a range of digital tools that operate as a seamless whole.
The benefits of automatic watering systems for agricultural businesses
Every South African farmer knows that you need to expect a certain degree of operational loss when your operation depends on irrigation. Currently, there are more than 1,5 million hectares of agricultural land under irrigation in sunny SA. At a time when water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, it’s therefore vital that each and every farming operation takes responsibility for their usage.
By investing in smart irrigations systems, producers can:
- Lay the groundwork for good management based on accurate measurements and diligent record-keeping.
- Curb the unnecessary loss of water, fertilisers and soil nutrients due to overwatering.
- Prevent algal blooms and eutrophication downstream from their lands due to the overuse of fertiliser to make up for irrigation-related nutrient leeching.
- And so much more.
The three main types of irrigation available to South African farmers include flood irrigation, mobile irrigation and static irrigation. Each system has its benefits and limitations, and the success or failure thereof depends on very careful selection. As such, it’s always best to consult the professionals when it comes to the planning, design and management of an automatic watering system.
The benefits of smart irrigation for homeowners
However, it’s not only the owners and proprietors of large-scale agricultural businesses who stand to benefit from the use of smart irrigation. Homeowners and smaller-scale producers can also reap the rewards of investment in future-proof systems like these. The two main types of smart irrigations suitable for home use include:
- Weather-based irrigation systems. These smart systems use feedback on conditions like temperature, rainfall, and solar radiation on a given property to adapt the duration and timing of irrigation cycles for optimal impact. When properly installed, used and maintained, these systems can cut water spend by up to 25%, often paying for itself in terms of water savings in less than two years.
- Moisture-based irrigation systems. These set-ups measure the actual moisture content of the soil and adjusts the time and duration of the irrigation cycle based on this data. This is typically the more expensive option, but when it is calibrated by a professional it is extremely efficient because it uses site-specific data pertaining to each site and foliage type on your property.
DID YOU KNOW? You can grow up to R12 000 worth of food in a home garden as small as 30m x 30m each year if you prepare your soil properly, select the right crops, do the proper fertilising and focus on optimal irrigation. That’s a lot of health-boosting organic, plastic-free goodness your family could be enjoying from farm to fork right on your own little patch of land.
Would you like to learn more about automatic watering systems and how smart irrigation systems can simply your life? Get in touch with the Bekmar team today. Call 015 307 5990 to speak to one of our knowledgeable consultants and take advantage of our vast industry experience today.