Population growth and an increase in irrigated agricultural land lead to a greater need for water and energy, at a time when global warming and rising greenhouse gas emissions are posing a real environmental challenge.
In this context, the benefits of smart irrigation, i.e., using the exact amount of water needed for each crop, help to optimize this scarce resource.
If we take a closer look at the human activities that require water, irrigation consumes the most; irrigated agriculture uses 70% of global water withdrawals and 90% of total consumption, according to the FAO.
The World Bank has reported that there are over 330 million hectares of irrigated land. Irrigated agriculture accounts for 20% of the total cultivated area and represents 40% of total food production worldwide. As a result, water used in farming is essential for global food security.
This explains why improving water management in agriculture and increasing water efficiency are key objectives for governments and organizations around the world.
Smart irrigation: the role of technology in improving water management
Improving environmental sustainability requires the reduction of operating costs to offer better quality service to users, and increase irrigation efficiency.
Irrigation associations need to implement technological solutions which can improve the hydraulic efficiency of networks and optimize water and energy consumption, thanks to the use of advanced algorithms and machine learning processes.
Digital solutions help to remotely monitor and control geographically dispersed assets, providing a comprehensive operations center and transforming the way irrigation associations interact with water infrastructure.
Remote reading, leakage control, smart irrigation and data integration have become new trends in agricultural irrigation.
Five benefits of smart irrigation
Irrigation associations are using digital transformation and technological platforms that bring the following benefits:
1. Centralized real-time management
Digital solutions enable users to view and monitor assets in real time, creating a holistic control center for infrastructure management.
The system provides the most relevant information from applications in the system, continuously summarizing operations.
In addition, the control center dashboard shows the most relevant infrastructure KPIs. This implies improved efficiency in field operations, greater end-user satisfaction and cost reductions.
2. Increased hydraulic efficiency
The use of sensors in the hydraulic network hierarchy affords greater control over flow and pressure metrics, thus cutting losses in the system and, therefore, decreasing the volume of unregistered water. This means a reduction in water resource consumption in river basins and improves environmental sustainability.
Remote reading of subscriber meters helps with early detection of leaks and fraud, and also contributes to enhancing the hydraulic efficiency of networks.
3. Optimization of water consumption
Innovative precision or agronomic irrigation gives recommendations to its users as to “where, when and how much” water is needed for their crops. Water consumption is optimized thanks to autonomous analysis and constant interpretation of all the variables and agronomic data available on the farm.
These technological solutions improve water efficiency, boosts environmental sustainability, optimizes work team performance, and increases farm productivity.
4. Optimization of energy consumption
As a result of the reduction in the volume of NRW and the reduction in crop water consumption, we will be able to reduce the water and carbon footprint.
Digital tools also allow the user to detect anomalies in the pumping systems through the operating status interface. The user can monitor the performance or the power factor of the pumping equipment, among others. In addition, the user can continuously monitor the performance of the equipment in order to anticipate at an early stage any incident that may increase energy consumption
5. Streamlining billing management
The digital solutions show the consumption and readings associated with each tap and plot counter. They can monitor consumption for each tap through the readings for each date range and can export the readings of each tap in CSV format to facilitate billing. They can also have advanced filters to obtain data more easily (date, owner ID, name, meter ID, etc.) within the consumption history available for each tap.