Read Time: 4 minutes

Precision technology improving water conservation

The Astounding Accuracy of Water Conservation

Where is the water? A question that appears simplistic. But on the farm, finding the answer is immensely complex. Will it rain enough or too much? Is moisture reaching the crops or evaporating into the air? Is there proper drainage? Is the soil losing nutrients?

It’s no wonder farmers call it, “water management.”

On the farm, every drop of this natural resource is approached with careful thought and planning. But this age-old practice of water stewardship has a new layer of technical sophistication. Satellites, digital imaging software, and artificial intelligence are commonly used by farmers to do what they’ve always done: protect, measure, and maintain fresh water.

SCOUTING FROM SPACE

One might assume every drop of rainfall or irrigated water that lands in the soil, ultimately ends up in the root zone. But climate and weather profoundly influence if needed moisture actually reaches the plants. Throughout the season, various satellites deliver data to help create water-use maps. Assisted by complex computer models, these satellites can observe soil moisture levels on any field, anywhere in the world.

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[unex_ce_side_by_side_images layer-name="Scouting from Space" rear_image_url="3078" rear_image_url_filename="ScoutingfromSpaceside_side_A-1.jpg" front_image_url="3079" front_image_url_filename="ScoutingfromSpaceside_side_B-1.jpg" image_caption="Image Caption Text" image_caption_color="white" image_location="image-left" id="content_k1o5qiblk" post_id="2042"] <h3>SCOUTING FROM SPACE</h3><p>One might assume every drop of rainfall or irrigated water that lands in the soil, ultimately ends up in the root zone. But climate and weather profoundly influence if needed moisture actually reaches the plants. Throughout the season, various satellites deliver data to help create water-use maps. Assisted by complex computer models, these satellites can observe soil moisture levels on any field, anywhere in the world.</p> [/ce_side_by_side_images]

Technology like this helps identify problem areas more efficiently. If a certain field has ample water, farmers using irrigation can apply water elsewhere. And as water is applied, they can continually observe how much of this resource is actually being consumed by crops.

Satellites deliver helpful data on water conservation.
RESULTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

answer-1

Landsat satellites record soil moisture levels while orbiting 438 miles away. This data can help prevent overwatering by identifying precisely where irrigation is needed within a field.

[unex_ce_interactive_question layer-name="Satellite Question" content_animation_id="satellite" answer_1="True" answer_2="False" answer_3="" answer_4="" answer_1_event="satellite_true" answer_2_event="satellite_false" answer_3_event="" answer_4_event="" correct_answer="answer-1" id="content_9yxo2ejl1" post_id="2042"]
Satellites can measure soil moisture while flying more than 400 miles above the Earth.

Landsat satellites record soil moisture levels while orbiting 438 miles away. This data can help prevent overwatering by identifying precisely where irrigation is needed within a field.

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CALCULATING VARIABLES

The days of treating every field the same are long gone. A key aspect of water conservation, “variable rate technology” enables tractors, combines, and sprayers to create customized applications of inputs. What used to be done by instinct and tradition, is now aided by GPS. Various mapping tools help identify which portions of the land, or “zones” require closer examination. Coupled with field and weather data, this empowers farmers to apply only what each zone needs— preventing overuse of natural resources, water included.  

RESULTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

answer-2

The most advanced GPS technology can identify a specific location within a single inch. With such advanced accuracy, farmers can make precise adjustments on where and how much water is applied. This technology helps farmers use only what’s needed, not a drop more.

[unex_ce_interactive_question layer-name="GPS Question" content_animation_id="gps" answer_1="6-8 inches " answer_2="1 inch" answer_3="3-5 inches" answer_4="2-4 inches" answer_1_event="gps_6" answer_2_event="gps_1" answer_3_event="gps_3" answer_4_event="gps_2" correct_answer="answer-2" id="content_hbd7j9g9a" post_id="2042"]
How precisely can GPS systems used in modern agriculture, pinpoint a location? Within...

The most advanced GPS technology can identify a specific location within a single inch. With such advanced accuracy, farmers can make precise adjustments on where and how much water is applied. This technology helps farmers use only what’s needed, not a drop more.

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PREDICTING PUDDLES

Unwanted pools of water (referred to as ponding) have long been a nuisance to generations of farmers. This collection of water deprives crops of oxygen, creates plant stress, and when not identified early, can lead to nutrient leaching and soil erosion. This is why farmers are often focused on drainage— looking for where water is most likely to collect.

The latest pond mapping technology employs artificial intelligence to predict where ponding may occur next. Specialized algorithms analyze fields using data from GPS tracking software. This technology then generates reports identifying precisely what sections of a farm are prone to flooding. With this information, a discerning farmer can apply less water to these vulnerable areas or plant seeds deeper to create better drainage.

[unex_ce_article_half_width_text_and_image layer-name="Pond Mapping" mobile_image="3080" mobile_image_filename="pond-mapping-technology-1.jpg" caption="" image_location="image-left" id="content_e0to6ph6x" post_id="2042"] <p>The latest pond mapping technology employs artificial intelligence to predict where ponding may occur next. <a href="https://modernag.org/modern-agriculture/software-algorithms-and-data-on-the-farm/">Specialized algorithms</a> analyze fields using data from GPS tracking software. This technology then generates reports identifying precisely what sections of a farm are prone to flooding. With this information, a discerning farmer can apply less water to these vulnerable areas or plant seeds deeper to create better drainage.    </p> [/ce_article_half_width_text_and_image]

A NEW ERA IN FORECASTS

Mother nature is not beholden to a schedule. From season to season and region to region— precipitation can vary wildly both in volume and frequency. To help decode the mystery of rainfall, modern agriculture leverages a bounty of data. A network of weather satellites operated by the U.S., Japan, India, Taiwan, Canada, and the European Union each share information to create an unparalleled forecast of the entire planet. Predicting the weather has truly become a global effort.

RESULTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

answer-2

Globally, 80% of farmland relies on rain for fresh water. In the U.S., this number grows to 92% of crops. For this reason, predicting the weather, adapting to extended drought, and monitoring soil moisture are essential aspects of water conservation.

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Irrigation is the main source of fresh water for most crops.

Globally, 80% of farmland relies on rain for fresh water. In the U.S., this number grows to 92% of crops. For this reason, predicting the weather, adapting to extended drought, and monitoring soil moisture are essential aspects of water conservation.

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INNOVATION WITH IMPACT

The latest technology is helping protect ancient natural resources. Analytics, machine learning, satellite data, seed, and more—each one helping modern agriculture make progress for the industry and the planet. With every breakthrough in innovation, farmers are empowered with more tools to steward natural resources. As each drop is optimized on the farm, modern agriculture is helping care for the Earth.

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