Field day helps farmers conserve water and fuel - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Field day helps farmers conserve water and fuel

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By Delivrine Registre - bio | email

July 8, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Agriculture is going digital. And farmers who toured 600 acres of research farmland on Spense Field in Moultire saw firsthand how this technology can help them conserve water and fuel.

"Farmers from throughout the region can see this technology and see how it might fit into their operation," said Executive Director, Chip Blaylock. A new Irrigator Pro system has been developed for cotton and corn fields using moisture sensors planted in the ground at eight, 16 and 24 inch depths. 

"When you have a rainfall event, we can know for sure how long that moisture is staying in the ground and how deep it actually went instead of just taking a guess," said Technology Transfers Specialist with the National Peanut Research Laboratory, Staci Ingrem. "So you know what is going on out there in the fields."

These readings tell farmers how often they need to irrigate to prevent over-watering. And using the newer irrigation system models will allow them to water fields using less pressure. "If you cut your pressure in half, you cut your operating cost in half," said Doyle Medders of Medders Irrigation, LLC.

With irrigation systems also going digital, farmers can spend less time in the fields because they can access their systems from cell phones or anything allowing them internet access. "At that time you made circles in the field, and you go hands on to start and stop. And today you are doing this from miles away with communication," said Medders.

"These are the sort of things that you may make one trip across the field when you used to make four or five trips across the field," said Colquitt farmer, Louie Perry.

Precision farming is also help improve the efficiency of their fields. "We plant straighter rows which is all powered by GPS giving us more rows to the acre. And we are getting more seed to the ground," said Blaylock.

Which will in turn increase production at a time where rising diesel and fertilizer costs are hitting farmers hard. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is set for October 14th through the 16th.

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