Thursday, November 15, 2012

Variable Rate Irrigation

Here to Stay, or Just a Fad?

Originally posted in the Spring 2012 issue of PivotPoint.

Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) is touted as one of the latest improvements in irrigation management. From helping growers to use water more efficiently to preventing runoff, VRI has been promoted as an excellent investment. 

But is this just a fad? Jake LaRue, Director of Global Applications and Projects for Valley Irrigation, says this technology is not just a passing fancy, but is here to stay. “No solution that can help manage resources significantly better is a fad. Growers point out benefits that include reducing their yield variability across the field, helping to maximize the value of their limited water supply and even helping to control runoff.” 

According to LaRue, depending on how prescriptions are applied and the goal of the grower, using this technology may increase total yields, optimizing the productivity of the management zones in the field. However, LaRue sees VRI helping growers to maximize more than just yields: it helps to maximize profitability, the end game for every grower. 

“Putting irrigation where it will do the most good, controlling runoff and deep percolation, maximizing the value of seed, fertilizer and other inputs all help drive up profitability,” he explained. 

As for the future of VRI, LaRue advises growers to look at the current use of variable rate fertilization, spraying and seeding. “Variable Rate Irrigation is the next logical step,” he concluded. 

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