Hortau Director of Grower Support Ben Smith hosted an irrigation management seminar at the World Ag Expo on Feb. 15 as almond bloom was getting underway in California’s Central Valley.
And while Smith’s presentation on “Early Season Irrigation Management” was attended largely by Central Valley farmers, his message resonated with growers across all crops and regions at the world’s largest annual agricultural exposition.
In fact, as Smith noted during his presentation, Hortau’s real-time soil tension data is the most precise for irrigation management decisions and scheduling because it is not affected by soil type, salinity or other ailments that tend to affect other sensors or measurements traditionally used in agriculture.
“This is where we challenge the industry a little bit,” Smith said. “We try to live in a much tighter range (of crop stress data) to fully maximize the benefits of irrigation management.
“The question is, do we live with the old standard and get the results we’ve always gotten, or do we move forward with a better method to do an even better job?”
Traditional methods of irrigation have had their place, they’ve done well, but we can do better now.”
— Ben Smith, Hortau Director of Grower Support
Smith went on to demonstrate how Hortau’s tensiometers measure exactly how tightly water is being held by the soil, and, more importantly, the ideal stress levels of a crop and how that alerts growers when to irrigate a respective field.
“The great thing about it is soil tension reflects on the soil and the plant as well,” Smith said. “Soils have different abilities to hold water, and plants react directly to soil tension. Soil tension is what causes the plant to shut stomata down (during photosynthesis).”
Using Hortau’s platform, growers are able to manage crop stress and maximize photosynthesis, which in return optimizes production and the use of inputs.
Smith said Hortau’s software and irrigation management advisors take the headache out of the overwhelming amount of field data pouring in, simplifying irrigation scheduling so growers know exactly when and for how long to run irrigation sets to maintain optimal production.
“Data’s great. It helps us make better decisions and understand when we’re doing well and how we can improve. The only thing that’s difficult with data, is you have to go through all that data and have means to make decisions on it. That can be overwhelming,” Smith said.
“In order to solve that, we have begun providing irrigation advising. Instead of teaching you and having you do the work, we’re coming out to do the analysis. We’re coming out to do a schedule. We look at the problem areas and provide you with a schedule so you can get the maximum benefit out of your crops and the equipment you get. I think that’s been the missing link we’ve been having in the monitoring industry.”
To learn more about Hortau and its irrigation management and scheduling services, contact us today.