New technology helps farmers manage water resources
As farmers think about 2013, water allocation and appropriate seed selection to fit individual fields are top of mind. Fontanelle agronomists are taking lessons learned from 2012 to help farmers design 2013 agronomic systems to precisely match subsoil water moisture with the best suited seed choices.
"Many Nebraska farmers have a finite amount of water to use, which requires a strategic approach to irrigation," said Nick Lammers, Fontanelle agronomist. "In 2012 we looked at methods for gauging water in the subsoil to better understand the root dynamics below the soil. This allows farmers to help maximize the efficiency of water applied."
Fontanelle takes great pride in providing not only the right product but also helpful tools that support farmers' success.
One of those tools is the Aqua View system, which includes capacitance moisture probes to precisely monitor irrigated water applications for the best corn yield potential. This system involves inserting field probes that gauge water below the soil and gather mapping data to provide more details to help manage the crop throughout the growing season. Certified Water Consultants work through the growing season to interpret the data and advise farmers on appropriate watering schedules. Using Aqua View from Fontanelle, farmers have more information to make critical production decisions.
"In 2012 sometimes farmers would think that water should be applied more quickly because it was so hot and dry," Lammers said. "In reality, they needed to slow down because evaporation was so high. The Aqua View probe helped show them how to maximize the economic efficiency of water."
Using Aqua View, farmers can determine if they want to pre-irrigate prior to the growing season and how much they need to water in-season. In some parts of Nebraska, Lammers said farmers are discussing the option of putting out water early if weather is warm enough to allow application without freezing irrigation equipment.
"If we can apply some water out there early and let it soak into the soil profile, it may give us a subsoil reserve for our stress critical growth stages," Lammers explained. "In a normal year we have that reserve from Mother Nature, but it isn't there this year in a lot of fields. Other farmers may choose to manage water needs by irrigating just a portion of the field and planting a higher seed population in those areas.
"It's important for farmers to get their local seed representative out to analyze their fields. Finding the right seed variety to match soil types and moisture levels is critical," Lammers said. He points out that specific seed varieties perform very differently under various soil and moisture conditions.
Lammers has many ideas to prepare for 2013, but bottom line, using tools and information provided by your local Fontanelle representative, such as a water probe, field mapping and proper seed selection can help make the most efficient decisions for each field.
The Aqua View system allows satellite mapping, or NDVI imaging. An infrared photo is taken every two weeks and indicates field conditions. For example, the imaging and resulting computer maps can pinpoint situations where there may be: disease or insect infestation developing; nutrient or water deficiencies; or sprinkler problems on pivots in certain areas of a field that may not be getting enough water.