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Spring Webinar Series Week 5 – Irrigation Case Studies

Here we are, the final two weeks of our Spring Webinar Series.

This week is about EarthScout case studies that involve irrigation and water management, and next week is about soil health, sustainable farming practices and case studies we have around that topic.

Background on EarthScout Case Studies

Case studies have been an important part of our research process at EarthScout. We use these studies to discover new decision points that are helpful to our growers agronomically.

Our case studies are done in collaboration with growers in many different crop types and geographic regions to serve a diverse group of growers.

Currently, most of our case studies have been driven by water management, and these are the studies that we will focus on today.

Irrigated Corn Case Study

The first case study we cover here is in irrigated corn in Minnesota. This study was done together with University of Minnesota Extension Professor, Vasudha Sharma. The purpose of this study is to measure real-time soil moisture as a condition for writing irrigation prescriptions using variable rate irrigation (VRI).

VRI is a precision agriculture technology that focuses on putting the right amount of water at the right location at the right time. This technology allows center pivot users the ability to change water applications across a field to cater to the needs of specific crops, soil types, and other field conditions.

The results of this study calculated a savings of about $25 per acre (30%) on irrigation costs. The savings were on energy and fuel costs of running the pivot alone. Because water is currently still free to use in Minnesota, where this grower is located, their savings were only seen in pivot energy use. Therefore, savings would have been even more significant in an area where water is paid for, as well.

For a closer look at the details of this case study, click on this video on our YouTube channel.

Irrigated Fruit and Vegetable Case Study

Our fruit and vegetable case study was also performed in Minnesota, by a grower using pivot and drip irrigation. This study was performed to dial in irrigation in sandy soils to maximize sweetness of strawberries and watermelon, as well as dial in fertigation of greenhouse cucumbers.

In this case, the grower set notifications in their app to use real-time soil moisture data in the field to take action before moisture levels became critically low. By allowing the moisture to remain low but well within in their desired levels, the grower was able to not only reduce their irrigation by 50%, but also increase the desirability (sweetness and juiciness) of their fruit significantly.

For a grower testimonial and more detailed information on this case study, click on this case study video on our YouTube channel.

Cannabis Case Study

The final case study we chose to highlight today is our cannabis case study that was conducted in Oregon. There was an interesting problem to solve here: why were cannabis transplants in the same field responding wildly different to the same levels of irrigation and soil moisture? Some were thriving and some were clearly struggling, and their soils were thought to be very similar.

With the use of soil moisture data in conjunction with soil oxygen data, it was found that the plant roots were not able to properly oxygenate until the moisture was allowed to drop to close to the wilting point. This was information that would not have been easy to obtain without the help of remote sensors.

Through the use of EarthScout precision field sensors and IoT technology, our Grow Coach was able to work with the grower halfway across the country to diagnose this issue and the transplants were saved.

For more information on this Cannabis Case Study click here.

Looking Ahead

The majority of our case studies are multiple year studies. The studies we chose to highlight today are still ongoing and we look forward to continuing these partnerships. Stay tuned for more great work to be shared over the coming years and we appreciate all of the relationships we have fostered up to this point.

How You Can Use EarthScout to Save Money

We have some tips for helping growers get started with in field sensor technology. One frequent question we get is “How many sensors do I need?”.

We want to ensure that this technology can be used by any grower, no matter the size of your operation. Having just one EarthScout collecting data in your field is better than having no data. One unit can help move your decision points in the right direction, so talk to a Grow Coach to determine the best placement of EarthScout sensors and get started. The more years of data you acquire, the more useful it is!

Installing two EarthScout units (or more) will allow you to start doing comparative work or to start mapping your fields’ variability. The more variability you are accounting for in your fields, the more precise your management decisions can become.

Quick Tips and Tricks

Don’t forget to note the installation date of your EarthScout. It is important to know where your “good data” starts, and stops, when analyzing trends.

Talk to your Grow Coach to help you learn more about your data trends.

Take lots of notes to more precisely approximate Field Capacity and Wilting Points for your particular soil texture.

  • Note when you turn your irrigation on/off and what the speed of irrigation was
  • Note conditions used to decide when to irrigate
  • Watch data come in immediately after water has been applied to see how it affects sensors at different depths across multiple sensors
  • Take pictures to help with data analysis at a later date

Thank you to everyone who joined this week to learn more about how we use Case Studies to help find more decision points for growers. Remember, there are no defined ways to use EarthScout, each grower’s use is defined by what your individual goals are. One EarthScout unit is enough to get any grower started, and two or more units will capture more variability for deeper understanding of your field.

That sums it up for this week.

The remaining webinar schedule is as follows:

Week 6 (April 22nd) – Crazy About Cover Crops. We will discuss soil health and the benefits of sustainable farming practices and case studies we have around this topic.

If you would like to register for the final week of this webinar series, you can do so by clicking this link.

If you missed the last 4 weeks of our webinar series, you can check out our YouTube Channel for access to all the recordings from this series, as well as our other educational content.

  • Week 1 served as an Introduction to EarthScout, the history of the company, and the products we offer farmers and growers.
  • Week 2 was a deep dive into the available sensors EarthScout offers.
  • Week 3 covered soil moisture and soil moisture management.
  • Week 4 focused on Mid-Season and End of Season Reports.

Thank you once again to everyone who has joined us for our Spring Webinar Series. Next week is the final week of this series! We look forward to seeing you all then!

If you have any questions about our products and services, please reach out to us via phone at 877-443-7632 or through our website at earthscout.com/contact!