Röhren- und Pumpenwerk BAUER > Press > Reli­able harvest
Effi­cient irri­ga­tion in times of climate change

Reli­able harvest thanks to irrigation

Extreme weather events are increas­ing. Long periods of drought are fol­lowed by enor­mous amounts of pre­cip­i­ta­tion that soil and plants cannot absorb. The past hot summers have shown that irri­ga­tion is an impor­tant measure to ensure yields. It is clear: With climate change, the impor­tance of irri­ga­tion will increase in the future.

Mul­ti­ple reasons for irrigation

Espe­cial­ly in times of climate change, irri­ga­tion is the basis for ensur­ing the supply of food. In addi­tion, farmers indi­cate dif­fer­ent reasons for pur­chas­ing an irri­ga­tion machine. One reason is the absolute need to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty due to lack of land. Or to irri­gate zones that suffer from very unfavourable natural con­di­tions. But also the increase in quality is an impor­tant factor for invest­ing in irri­ga­tion systems. A lack of water means stress for the plant, which of course is also reflect­ed in the starch, sugar and energy content of the indi­vid­ual crops.

Bauer Beregnung Pivot Kartoffel

The right dose at the right time in the right growth phase

It is crucial for effi­cient irri­ga­tion and thus for a good harvest that the plant is sup­plied with water at the right time, in the right dose and in the right growth phase. Needs-based irri­ga­tion is the basis for an optimal harvest and is con­sid­ered an insur­ance that the use of seeds, fer­til­iz­ers and energy really pays off. In England, for example, where it nor­mal­ly rains often, it is essen­tial to irri­gate potato fields. Espe­cial­ly in spring, when the pota­toes have to sprout, it does not always rain suf­fi­cient­ly in England. If the potato-plant is not sup­plied with suf­fi­cient water at this stage, it is already pre­de­ter­mined that yields will be very poor. Not only pota­toes, but also field veg­eta­bles and beets are among the main crops that do not grow sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly without irri­ga­tion. At the same time, we are also observ­ing that malting barley and corn increas­ing­ly require addi­tion­al irrigation.

Tech­ni­cal trends

Water is a pre­cious resource and only avail­able in limited quan­ti­ties. It is there­fore all the more impor­tant to only irri­gate the exact dose required. For this reason modern irri­ga­tion man­age­ment has to take current climate data, such as soil mois­ture and con­di­tions, tem­per­a­ture and humid­i­ty into account, in order to cal­cu­late and give the nec­es­sary water require­ments for the crop. Reli­able, precise irri­ga­tion control pro­vides valu­able ser­vices, prefer­ably as auto­mat­ed as pos­si­ble. Modern irri­ga­tion tech­nol­o­gy is heading pre­cise­ly in this direc­tion: Precise control, mon­i­tor­ing, oper­a­tional plan­ning, automa­tion and smart irri­ga­tion are indis­pens­able for many farmers. The more effi­cient­ly water is used, the less energy is wasted. Energy effi­cien­cy togeth­er with man­pow­er is an impor­tant cost factor when using dif­fer­ent irri­ga­tion systems.

The right irri­ga­tion solu­tion for the farm

Whichev­er mechan­i­cal irri­ga­tion system you chose, it is all about water dis­tri­b­u­tion effi­cien­cy. A proven mechan­i­cal irri­ga­tion system used world­wide is the so-called hose reel machine. The great advan­tage of this system is that it can be moved flex­i­bly and easily from one field to the next. Main­tain­ing an even feed speed is essen­tial for effi­cient use of the hose reel irri­ga­tor in order to ensure con­stant and precise water appli­ca­tion over the entire length of the field. The optimum speed, which can be deter­mined from special per­for­mance tables, can be pre­cise­ly set with an irri­ga­tion com­put­er and main­tained over the entire irri­ga­tion oper­a­tion. The modern devices are absolute­ly precise and there­fore also water-saving. Using special appli­ca­tions — such as the GPS-sup­port­ed app “Smar­tRain” from Bauer — it is also pos­si­ble to monitor and control the irri­ga­tion machine. This saves working time and of course travel time to the machines, which brings us to the dis­ad­van­tages of this system: Due to the increased work­load and energy con­sump­tion com­pared to other methods, it is com­par­a­tive­ly expen­sive to operate.

Bauer Beregnung Ankeimphase_Pivot_Brasilien

Trend towards low-pres­sure systems

For this reason, the trend in irri­ga­tion is moving more and more in the direc­tion of low-pres­sure systems that require little man­pow­er such as pivot systems. Thanks to the GPS or under­ground-con­trolled corner-arms it is now also pos­si­ble to irri­gate the corners of a field, which was a problem in the past. Thus, pre­vi­ous­ly unpro­duc­tive zones now can be cul­ti­vat­ed and the avail­able area can be opti­mal­ly uti­lized. Due to the further devel­op­ment of pivot systems to linear and so-called cen­ter­lin­er systems, the perfect solu­tion can now be found for every surface shape.

The water dis­tri­b­u­tion effi­cien­cy of all of these systems is very high due to the use of low-pres­sure spray nozzles — the main advan­tage is their energy effi­cien­cy. Most spray nozzles nowa­days already work with a con­nec­tion pres­sure of approx. 0.8 bar and are there­fore far supe­ri­or to other systems in terms of energy consumption.

However, these types of machines are now even going a step further and using tech­niques that allow indi­vid­ual nozzles of each machine to be switched on and off indi­vid­u­al­ly. This prin­ci­ple is called VRI (Vari­able Rate Irri­ga­tion) and is an inte­gral part of modern pre­ci­sion irri­ga­tion. With VRI, the appli­ca­tion rate can be indi­vid­u­al­ly adjust­ed to the cor­re­spond­ing soil type, plant species and the growth stages of dif­fer­ent crops. On the one hand, this allows the water dis­tri­b­u­tion to be opti­mized and, on the other hand, there is also the pos­si­bil­i­ty of very precise plant fer­til­iza­tion using sprin­kler systems. The result is an appli­ca­tion rate that is per­fect­ly tai­lored to the culture and thus an eco­nom­i­cal­ly opti­mized and respon­si­ble use of the pre­cious resource of water.

Pivot and linear systems impress with a high degree of automa­tion as well as reduced oper­at­ing costs, since they need lower con­nec­tion pres­sures. However, a certain field size is required for these systems to be eco­nom­i­cal. It must also be taken into account that per­ma­nent­ly installed systems cannot be fully uti­lized every year due to crop rota­tion and the con­se­quent cul­ti­va­tion of crops that do not require much irri­ga­tion. BAUER has been dealing with these and other irri­ga­tion prob­lems for decades and invests heavily in the devel­op­ment of energy-effi­cient and there­fore water-saving control tech­nolo­gies. For a green world and a future worth living in.