Last week I talked about the solutions that are in front of us when it comes to Irrigation management. Specifically, I got into the AquaSystems platform, and what it is from a hardware and software side. But to be honest, when I looked back I felt that it came out very superficial. What I mean is, if we were at a buffet, I felt like we went through the sides only, and never got to the featured items. The hardware and software part of AquaSystems is like the salad bar of this buffet. You can fill up on it, and it’s the feature item for some people, but it’s not the main course. So where are the prime rib, crab legs, and desert? It’s about time we got to them.
So what makes AquaSystems special, you ask? Differentiation. Back to the restaurant reference, there are a lot of places you can go to eat, but you probably have a favorite. It’s your favorite restaurant for a reason, right? Maybe it’s all about the food, or the service, the value or the ambiance. Whatever it is, it’s likely about the difference in the details. They are doing little things differently, and that’s what makes it an experience you prefer. This is exactly what we have tried to do with AquaSystems. Make it your preferred irrigation management system, by differentiating it from your other options. Here are nine little things we do differently with AquaSystems that will benefit you.
- EC Mapping. We use a tool called a Dual EM to map our fields when you enroll in the program. What this tool does is goes across the field and maps the soil you have present, specifically looking at the clay content we have. We use this trip across the field to build on a couple of the next steps.
- Topography Mapping. Yield is a function of many things. One of the most overlooked is topography. Topography affects many aspects, including water infiltration, water runoff, sunlight interception, and flooding potential. All of these things also affect our decision when it comes to the next step.
- Probe Location Selection. When it comes down to where to locate a probe in the field, many factors should be considered. The EC Mapping helps us decide what the appropriate soil type is. The topography analysis helps us make sure some of the auxiliary factors of yield are taken into consideration. One thing about using moisture probes that may surprise you is that we only use one moisture probe per management zone. If a field is going to be all corn, we don’t see advantages to having more than one probe out there if you are irrigating at one rate. More probes often only lead to more confusion. One of the reasons we are confident in saying that goes back to the EC mapping.
- Installation, in season service, and removal. One thing about using technology is that it should make life easier. There was a marketing campaign a few years ago that featured the easy button. This is our version of the easy button. For some of you, the work of servicing this all year round is a roadblock for implementation. We want the roadblock removed.
- Agronomy Resources for on hand Support. Back to the easy button. You need more eyes looking at this information than just your own. Ideally, you have a trusted advisor helping you decipher what is going on and turning it into actionable decisions. Crop models have a place in helping us, but they cannot answer a phone or text to provide another opinion. This also leads into one of our biggest beliefs.
- Education. If it is your first or fourth year with probes, you still have more that you can learn about using them. We believe that education is as important as any other part of the puzzle. And a key piece that we have found is that peer education is incredibly important also. There are great advantages to looking at probes in an environment with your peers and discussing what is going on in the field; it offers validation and comfort to the decision-making process.
- VR irrigation. The ability to take our information from the probes and write prescriptions to better utilize water is a unique point that not many others can do. This relies heavily on the first step, EC mapping to do, but when done in conjunction with that and Soil Textural analysis, it offers us an ROI that is difficult to ignore.
- Grower knowledge. As with all of our VR programs, AquaSystems relies on the Grower and Agronomists knowledge of the field to refine decisions, not just put the computer in charge. There are many times where the little details don’t provide you with what you need to acquire a profitable outcome. This is where one on one interaction with each other helps determine how to tip the scales heavily toward those profitable outcomes.
- Our ACS team. This is the last piece of this puzzle. We have ten professionals on staff that help our growers on a daily basis with AquaSystems. They are looking over probes, refining information, changing budget lines, and sending you messages about what is going on. I think you would be hard pressed to find any other organization with this level of dedication to irrigation management.
Moisture Probes provide a piece of the technology solution – but a good partner helps you finish the puzzle by putting together all of the pieces. The difference between success and failure are in these details. Any partner you utilize around Soil Moisture Management and VR Irrigation should address each of these pieces.