When Bruce Shewfelt was looking for examples of remote irrigation monitoring one Saturday afternoon, all he had to do was log on to the Internet from his Morden office.
The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration consultant was almost immediately downloading information on reservoir levels, downstream flows below the reservoir and current use rates – from an irrigation system located in rural Idaho.
In a nutshell, that’s the power of the remote sensing systems, Shewfelt says. They harness the power of modern information technology and put it to work for growers so they don’t have to be running all over the country babysitting pivots during the irrigation season.
“I could log on today and get the level (of the main reservoir) right now,” Shewfelt told the recent Manitoba Potato Production Days meeting in Brandon.
Remote sensing systems have been improving in recent years and that development dovetails nicely with advancements in other information technology like cellphones, Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and hand-held data devices like the Canadianmade BlackBerry. It’s all in an effort to answer the perennial question for potato growers and other irrigators, says Shewfelt.
“Is your irrigation system delivering what you think it is, where you think it is?” Shewfelt says. “That’s the big question.”
PFRA’s Shewfelt says the systems can be very expensive, but reasonably priced options are also out there, but making sure the system does what a farm needs is the key. “Lots of options exist, so do your homework,” Shewfelt says.