As the most precious natural resource – water is becoming increasingly scarce, increasing the need for effective irrigation systems. Irrigation automation can help save water, including labor costs. But what exactly is an automated irrigation system. This article will help you get a basic idea of these systems, their operation, and their benefits.
What is an Automated Irrigation System?
As the name suggests, an automated irrigation system refers to the supply of water to crops with no or minimum amount of manual intervention required besides surveillance. One of the noteworthy points about automatic irrigation systems is that almost every scenario can be automated, whether it is a sprinkler, surface, or drip irrigation. Generally, these irrigation systems are automated with the help of sensors, timers, computers, or other mechanical appliances. Some of the essential benefits of automatic watering systems are the elimination of improper irrigation, water conservation, reduction in labor cost, and easy fertigation.
With this, the overall process of irrigation becomes a lot more efficient, leaving workers and farmers with more time that they can use to concentrate on other essential farming tasks. However, the initial cost involving the procurement and installation of equipment can be costly as compared to the traditional irrigation methods. But if done correctly, an automated irrigation system can save a lot of time, money, and water in the long run.
After installation, water distribution becomes much easier and does not require the farmers to control or supervise the process constantly. Another feature worth mentioning is that this system can easily control irrigation frequency. In modern design, this can be done with the help of a computer. While in traditional techniques, this is done with a timer.
Not to mention, with an automatic water system, farmers can ensure easy fertigation while reducing the labor cost to a significant level. Another fantastic feature of an automated irrigation system is that it offers round-the-clock irrigation irrespective of labor availability. This can result in a substantial increase in productivity, which will contribute to the overall yield and profit.
Types of Automatic Irrigation Systems
Automated irrigation systems can be categorized into three broad categories. Let us have a look at them:
Conventional automation of watering systems involves traditional, low-tech, and affordable elements such as PVC pipes, clay pots, porous capsules, and more to automate the irrigation process. This involved storing water in pots and distributing it through PVC pipes. The water was then discharged through porous capsules. Yet another traditional and low-tech automatic watering system consists of the surge flow and gravitational tank irrigation system. This was done using the siphon effect and gravitation to distribute water to the plants.
Mechanical timer-based irrigation was a sought-after choice until the mid-90s. However, they have recently gained momentum again and are still used in a few parts of the world as it requires low capital investment. This system includes a mechanical timer used in tandem with the valves to regulate the water flow. However, this system cannot adjust the watering or ratio of fertigation and can only be automated for the watering frequency.
Computer-based irrigation system employs a watering strategy devised by the computer-based on several factors such as timing and even climatic conditions like temperature and light to develop an irrigation solution that works best for the crops. While the initial cost can be high for a computer-based irrigation system, this can prove to be a lucrative option in the long run. This system is generally beneficial for a large greenhouse that cultivates intensive crops such as cucumber, tomato, eggplant, and pepper.
Computer-based automatic watering systems can be further categorized into four parts:
- Time-based system
- Volume-based system
- Open-loop system
- Closed-loop system
Irrigation automation has successfully set a new benchmark for farming all across the globe. Right from saving water to making fertigation a lot easier and more convenient, automated watering systems offer a bunch of benefits that have the potential of genuinely revolutionizing the farming industry. We hope that this information will help you get a basic idea of automated irrigation system and their operation.