As the demand on water resources in the agricultural industry continues to grow, farmers are looking to technology for more efficient solutions.
One area of significant investment is in precision farming, or the use of data to figure out where and when resources such as irrigation are needed.
According to the Ministry for the Environment, irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 per cent of water use between 2013 and 2014.
For Blackhills Farm director and manager Craig Blackburn, the use of ScadaFarm, an industrial Internet of Things (IoT) product, has allowed him to better monitor and manage the Canterbury farm’s water use.
“Every day I adjust my pivots and pumps for a variety of reasons – shifts in the wind, rain levels, crop requirements or local regulations,” Blackburn said.
“I can monitor and control my irrigation system easily from my mobile phone, saving me hours of time not spent driving around the farm.”
The system was developed with Schneider Electric on Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform by Waterforce, a Kiwi irrigation and water management company.
It uses weather forecasts and information from sensors in each of the paddocks to show when irrigation was needed and in which areas, limiting the amount of water used.
Statistics New Zealand shows about 80 per cent of the total irrigated land in New Zealand is in the South Island, and Canterbury and North Otago make up most of this area.
Blackburn said the sheep, beef and crop farm’s yields had increased and water use had lowered – a significant bonus in Canterbury, which was often subject to irrigation limits.
(Source – http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=11890507)