Wireless Irrigation Sensor Workshops

Kurt LawtonEducation, Events, Irrigation, Remote sensing, sustainability, University

If you irrigate and have not considered wireless sensors, the time is now to save money and improve yields.

The University of Missouri will sponsor three free breakfast workshops on wireless soil-moisture monitoring for timing irrigation. The workshops will feature representatives from six leading manufacturers of wireless sensors.

The workshops will take place Jan. 18 in Kennett, Jan. 19 in Sikeston and Jan. 20 in Columbia.

“The price of wireless technology has decreased so much in recent years that the annual cost for complete wireless systems can be as low as three to six dollars per acre,” said Joe Henggeler of MU’s Commercial Agriculture Program and workshop coordinator. “It won’t take too much extra cotton, corn or soybeans to pay for that investment.”

MU specialists and others will provide information on types of sensors, how far they can transmit signals and their usefulness to farmers. Company representatives will briefly explain their products.
Use of wireless sensors by 500 farmers in Nebraska has shown an average pump savings of $25 per acre for corn and $19 per acre for soybeans. Missouri survey results show that irrigators who use sensors have yields that are much higher than irrigators who do not use the wireless technology, Henggeler said.

Computer workstations linked to Google Earth will be available for use by farmers and company representatives. Farmers will be able to zoom to aerial views of their farms to see where to place sensors, measure the distances involved and observe if there are obstructions that may block signals.

The companies to be represented at the workshops are Campbell Scientific, Decagon Devices, Irrometer Company, John Deere Water, Onset Computer Corporation and Smartfield. Smartfield manufactures an infrared canopy temperature sensor that can determine when a crop needs to be watered.

Data is gathered 24/7 on the crop’s moisture conditions and is displayed on the computer as graphs. Almost all of the products can be set up to text-message an irrigator when a crop needs water.
Henggeler said he is pleased with the companies that will be represented at the workshops and with the personnel they will be sending. “Companies are not just sending regular sales staff but their vice presidents, product managers and other higher-echelon staff. They are eager to meet Midwestern irrigators because they feel they have products that will help them and they want to start partnerships here.”

Workshops are free of charge, but attendees are asked to preregister at http://agebb.missouri.edu/irrigate/bhconf/2011/prereg.htm.
Workshops begin 7 a.m. with a hot breakfast and conclude at 10 a.m. Dealers will be available later in the day to make site visits. Special workshop discounts will be awarded to attendees.

Dates and locations of the workshops:
-Tuesday, Jan. 18: American Legion Building, Kennett, Mo.
-Wednesday, Jan. 19: Clinton Building, Sikeston, Mo.
-Thursday, Jan. 20: MU Bradford Farm, Columbia, Mo.

For more information, see http://agebb.missouri.edu/irrigate/bhconf/2011/agenda.htm, or contact Joe Henggeler at 573- 225-7986 or henggelerj@missouri.edu.