Using Agricultural SCADA for a Higher Yield
The world depends on farmers to put nutritious food on the table. As the global population continues to grow, there will be even greater demand for the agricultural industry to increase yields. At the same time, concerns about the climate will challenge farmers to find solutions that minimize water waste. The real-time data and irrigation control of an agricultural SCADA system will go a long way in meeting these goals.
The Challenges of Inadequate Soil Monitoring
For many years, farmers have used manual methods to determine the moisture levels in the soil. With practice, they learn to feel when a handful of dirt has a sufficient amount of water. While this method can be helpful on a smaller scale, it is time-consuming on large scale farms. When farmworkers must travel over several acres to take a measurement, it is time they could spend on other tasks.
Also, manual methods do not always take into account the loss of moisture caused by warmer temperatures or changes in humidity. When a farmer assumes there is more water in the soil than is present, it can lead to underwatering. Crops that do not get enough water will have stunted growth and lower yields.
Overwatering is the opposite problem. When there is too much water in the soil, plants have trouble taking in other nutrients. This situation compromises plant health leading to lost crops and low yields. In areas where water is less available, overwatering also causes increased overhead costs due to the wasted water.
Using Soil SCADA for Irrigation
A SCADA system designed for the agricultural industry creates connections between moisture sensors located throughout the farm, irrigation equipment and the farmer. To form a proper plan for irrigation, the farmer needs information about the moisture that is currently in the soil and the weather conditions around the farm.
With knowledge of the expected daily temperatures, levels of sunlight and humidity, farmers can predict how much moisture will be lost due to evaporation. They can also determine the best times to water the fields for better water absorption and retention.
An important advantage of a well-designed SCADA system is that farmers can set timers or turn on irrigation equipment from a central location. This saves a great deal of time when a farmer is working plots spread over a large area.
How Real-Time Data Makes the Difference
It is estimated that better soil monitoring will reduce agricultural water waste by up to 50 billion gallons every year. Real-time moisture data will help farms be more efficient and productive by maintaining a consistent level of moisture in their fields.
As the number of data points increases, farmers will begin to see trends in field moisture that will lead to better predictions of water needs. At the same time, the SCADA system can alert the farmer of unexpected changes in moisture levels. Because the farmer can turn on irrigation equipment from a remote location, he or she can address moisture issues immediately.
Farming technology has improved with every generation. Better equipment leads to higher yields for a growing population. A soil SCADA system provides data processing and remote control tools that represent the next step forward in agricultural innovation.