Water is a big deal for most farmers, and that’s especially true in Florida. One group of farmers in Suwannee didn’t have to worry as much about water and their crops this past growing season, thanks to a water-saving tool at the center of a UF/IFAS Extension experimental trial. The water tool is part of new smart-ag technology that aims to make farming more efficient and cost-effective.
Water Tool Initiative
The trials were led by Patrick Troy, a regional specialized agent in row crops, according to a UF/IFAS release on the water tool sensor initiative. The initiative included using soil moisture sensors in the ground to take readings on the soil’s moisture content. The water tool sensor technology allows farmers to be more informed and thus make better decisions on watering times and amounts.
The trails started in November 2015 when Troy gave the sensors to three different farmers in the Suwannee River Valley. He then taught them how to use the sensors and interpret the data to adjust their water usage. The sensors are similar to those available for residential landscaping, but they’re much more precise, and much more expensive. Such trials show how using water tool sensor technology can pay for itself in the long run.
Troy explained in the UF/IFAS release that the trial also encouraged growers and producers to adopt ‘best management practices’ (BMPs) established by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Water Tool Results
Troy explained how proper timing and more accurate irrigation rates save water in the long run. The readings are sent to a smart phone every three hours, allowing farmers to have data on both the short and long-term watering needs of their crops. Increasing the precision of irrigation saves water, which in turn saves money. On average, the three farmers in Suwannee saved eight percent on water costs for the season, a significant degree of savings in both water conservation and money.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.