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Agricultural Water Management: Smart Ways Not to Run Out of Water

Discover how agribusinesses minimize water loss and increase crop yields by implementing agricultural water management solutions

Updated: October 04, 2023 1 min read Published: October 19, 2021

Climate change and imminent water shortages are destabilizing the modern agriculture industry. Saving crops amidst heatwaves and floods while satisfying the food demands of a growing population with a decreasing freshwater supply is an arduous job. Never before have agribusinesses faced so many challenges at once.

Due to population growth, urbanization, and climate change, competition for water resources is expected to increase, with a particular impact on agriculture.

World Bank

The rising need for smarter use of resources has set in motion the development of precision farming, which brings together agribusinesses and technical water solutions.

With a full arsenal of agricultural water management solutions like big data agricultural water management software, IoT systems, and agriculture drone software, farmers can conserve water while enhancing productivity.

Keep reading to learn about the diverse agricultural water management solutions that are helping the industry meet modern challenges.

  • How do farms make use of sensor-guided irrigation water management solutions?
  • What are the immediate benefits of mobile and web-based water management software applications?
  • What do drones see and how do aerial images help improve water management in agriculture?
  • How do big data agricultural water management solutions help farmers build short- and long-term irrigation strategies?

How do farms make use of sensor-guided irrigation water management solutions?

Connected farming is expected to reach $6.99 billion by 2026, and IoT comprises a great part of the industry. IoT technologies have been widely adopted in agriculture due to their efficiency in crop monitoring, surveillance, and water management.

Agricultural water management solutions help farmers optimize the cost of production, produce more crops, practice sustainable farming, and minimize human intervention in the monitoring process. Besides using resources more efficiently, farmers also benefit from smart water management solutions in the following ways:

  • Improved long-term soil health
  • Reduced human efforts
  • Notifications of plants abnormalities
  • Control of water waste for cost-efficient water use>/li>

Structure of smart agricultural water management solutions

IoT agricultural water management solutions represent a well-orchestrated system of sensors, connectivity devices, data storage, and data analysis tools.

Agriculture water management ecosystem
Agricultural Water Management: Smart Ways Not to Run Out of Water

Though each smart irrigation system is tailored to the specific needs of an agricultural business, these systems usually have a five-layer structure.

Data collection
Soil, weather, and plant sensors are placed in the soil and on plants to collect data about soil temperature, water saturation, and other vital metrics.

Data communication
At this layer, all systems from different IoT arrangements send information to storage (cloud, application, or platform) via Wi-Fi, satellites, or a mobile connection.

Data storage
Data is stored in a cloud or on any kind of private, public, or hybrid server to be analyzed later.

Data processing
Large chunks of information are analyzed by cloud computing algorithms. As a result, farmers receive well-visualized statistical information that allows them to adjust the irrigation process.

Data presentation
The last layer of the smart irrigation system visualizes processed and classified data in a meaningful and easy-to-read view. Farmers receive actionable insights that can be applied for manual water management or for adjusting the operations of automated irrigation systems.

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What are the immediate benefits of mobile and web water management software applications?

Farmers put their crops at risk when they decide to measure the water balance in the soil on vast swaths of land manually. Collecting and analyzing data takes a lot of time and human effort, which can bring crop losses. What’s worse, the results of analysis become outdated in hours due to constant changes in temperature and air humidity.

“We have seen a growing sector of farmers who are using apps,” says Ignacio Ciampitti, associate professor of agronomy at Kansas State University.

Water management software such as mobile and web applications fix this problem by collecting up-to-date information from field devices such as sensors, storing it, and processing it. As a result, farmers receive fresh and easy-to-read data visualized in charts, schemes, and tables.

Typically, agricultural water management solutions are used for:

  • Indicating soil moisture levels over time and showing total soil moisture capacity
  • Running through historical and real-time watermark sensor readings that show used and available water
  • Showing forecasted and real-time data that can be used for more efficient irrigation
  • Creating new graphs and pinning GPS locations for fields
  • Estimating the amount of nutrients carried with water per acre per season to manage fertilization plans
  • Calculating the cost of crops per acre by calculating overall fuel consumption, gallons per meter, hours of operation, the cost of fuel per meter, and acres covered
  • Calculating the annual cost of owning and running an irrigation system
  • Forecasting the last irrigation of the season

Web application for water management in agriculture use case

Mobile and web-based water management software plays an important role in understanding and improving crop growth. After activating an automated greenhouse system, Europe’s leading AgriTech advisory company received remarkable insights on micro-climate conditions and timing that influences the growth of crops. The solution aggregates data on:

  • Moisture, humidity, and CO2 levels in soil and air
  • Watering, soil, and draining measurements
  • Daytime and nighttime temperatures inside and outside the greenhouses
  • Sun radiation effects and light efficiency

Farmers use the platform to visualize, analyze, and add data in an all-in-one spreadsheet that provides a unified view of all metrics. The histogram builder makes the platform future-proof, as it allows for adjusting the functionality of water management solutions without additional coding.

Take a look at platform-based crop management software for promoting sustainable farming practices

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What do drones see and how do aerial images help improve water management in agriculture?

The total value of drone-powered software solutions has reached $127 billion according to a PwC analysis. Goldman Sachs research shows that agriculture businesses have already invested around $5,922 million in drones.

Drone-based agricultural water management solutions provide a bird’s-eye view of the field from a smartphone screen. Drones not only allow you to gather data from soil-implanted sensors but also let you take a look at acres and acres of crops from meters above the ground.Agricultural Water Management: Smart Ways Not to Run Out of Water

Drone cameras can show more than the human eye can see and are more effective than satellite images because they fly below the clouds. This is especially relevant for identifying drainage, leakages, natural land runoff, and water pooling in remote spots of the field. By identifying areas of water consolidation, farmers can adjust their irrigation plans and the amount of water distributed to specific areas.

Besides showing a full overview of crops in real time, drones measure the heat of fields. Equipped with thermal, multispectral, or hyperspectral sensors, drones can identify parts of a field where irrigation adjustments are required.

Flying above crops, drones take aerial images of fields and gather GIS data, then synchronize it with a larger database where ML algorithms compare it against certain criteria. The result is that farmers get a better understanding of crop health and the efficiency of irrigation plans which helps making more precise yield predictions.

Read how field images made by drones help to minimize the harmful effects of herbicides on the environment

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How do big data agricultural water management solutions help farmers build short- and long-term irrigation strategies?

Gary Wong, a cloud computing enthusiast, suggests that agriculture businesses invest more in analytical solutions to minimize water waste. And he’s not the only one. The global market for big data, machine learning, and AI solutions in agriculture is expected to reach $1,236 million by 2023, with a 16.2% annual growth rate.

For thousands of years, success in farming was absolutely dependent on favorable weather. Unlike their ancestors, modern farmers can benefit from crop management solutions operating with big data and cloud computing and make decisions based on aggregated data — and even make weather forecasts.

By providing weather forecasts, big data agricultural water management solutions help farmers irrigate, add pesticides and fertilizers, and harvest at the most suitable times.

Where does big data come from? Drone aerial photos, sensor data, satellite images, and other information gathered by digital devices are sent to cloud platforms.

All that data about the weather, humidity, temperature, water inputs, and irrigation practices are stored in the cloud, where it gets standardized and processed by cloud computing algorithms. As a result, big data software collects and manages data from any combination of sources, processes it quickly, and creates comprehensive analytical reports to assist in decision-making.

The bottom line

Agribusinesses are still responsible for 70% of water use, which makes adoption of agricultural water management practices a must. On the bright side, the variety of smart technical solutions for agriculture is rapidly growing. Applying water management solutions has multifaceted benefits beyond using water more efficiently. With proper water management, farmers can harvest more crops, decrease the price of operations, manage irrigation remotely, and predict yields more accurately. Smart water irrigation software paired with a sustainability mindset can prevent water overconsumption and prevent crop loss.

Looking for an opportunity to implement an agricultural water management solution on your farm? Drop us a message! The Intellias team helps agribusinesses unleash their potential by developing custom solutions for their specific needs.

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