Reduce costs and enhance irrigation productivity through efficient water use

Irrigation and water use efficiency

As we start heading into the hotter months of the year, and with NIWA predicting a likely El Nino weather system, irrigation will be even more critical to farming success. More than at any other time of the year, this is when ensuring the most efficient use of water is critical, because farmers can significantly reduce costs and enhance their productivity through water use efficiency.

Water use efficiency is the ratio of water beneficially used to the irrigation water delivered to the field. It’s an essential consideration for farmers, because it means they can take cost out of the business by irrigating as efficiently as possible.

So what are the key benefits of efficient water use? They include:

  1. Reduced pumping costs
    The less water you use, the more you can reduce pumping costs. Electricity savings are immediate benefits to the bottom line.
  2. Reduced water usage
    If you irrigate as efficiently as possible, the water you have available can be extended. It means you’ll have more available at the end of the season when it gets really dry.
  3. Reduced fertiliser use
    The less fertiliser is washed away by irrigation, the less you need to use. Not only that, but fertilisers are retained in the correct layer to stimulate plant growth and productivity.
  4. Nitrate reductions
    The right amount of water means that there’s less chance nitrates will flow through the soil profile into the groundwater.
  5. Provenance and compliance
    Increased focus on water use and related consents mean that farmers will need to justify their water use and irrigation events.

How do you go about achieving these benefits? There are several tools available that can help. They can be added to an existing monitoring infrastructure over a staged timeline, or installed all at once.

Soil moisture and temperature sensors are a sensible first investment. Essentially, they provide an ‘x-ray’ of the ground moisture content. Rain gauges are also a good idea, as they measure how much actual irrigated water and natural water is being used. Installing simple tools like this can quickly build a picture of water usage and the efficiencies which can lead to operational cost savings.

Watermetrics has a range of related solutions and services designed to help you improve water use efficiency and manage your irrigation, such as:

  • Provision of water management and consent management
  • Telemetry monitoring solutions
  • Installation and ongoing maintenance of equipment
  • Electronic collection, storage and presentation of collected on-farm data
  • Effluent Monitoring
  • Fail Safe Effluent Dispersal
  • Soil Moisture and Temperature
  • ET and Weather Station monitoring
  • Electricity Spot Market pricing
  • Water Ordering
  • Water Transfer Platform
  • Irrigation Schemes

If you’re keen to find out more, get in touch with us and we’ll arrange a time to discuss how we can help you make better decisions around your water use.

Helping Irrigation Schemes Balance Water and Improve efficiency

There is, perhaps, no resource more valuable than water. It is needed to drink, grow our food, keep our ecosystems healthy and even supplies the majority of our electricity.

Contrary to what some may think, New Zealand does not have a water shortage, it just happens to come at the wrong time of the year. This can be a problem during the summer in the Canterbury region, when drought conditions are never far from a farmer’s mind.

As a result, irrigation schemes have been developed, which provide water to thousands of farmers. There are many advantages of being part of an irrigation scheme. They generally provide a reliable water supply, allowing farmers to make better decisions around irrigation, and can even provide irrigation inareas where it was previously thought impossible.

Furthermore, irrigation schemes have been at the forefront of helping farmers improve water efficiency and adopt Good Management Practice.

Understanding the importance of irrigation schemes, we have developed solutions that help the schemes streamline their processes and better manage their water.

Water Ordering

One of the essential processes of irrigation schemes is ordering water. Depending on the scheme type, when a scheme member needs water they might text, email or fax management with the details of their requested order. Someone from the scheme must then check that the user is within their allocated consent before arranging their water allocation.

This manual water ordering process is often done using simple tools and involving only one person, who’s then under pressure to juggle many orders.

With our Water Order service, scheme members can order water through a web portal and the complex processes are automated by our system. This improves efficiency and radically reduces the risk of disastrous mistakes.

For scheme operators it saves time, as well as providing better visibility and accuracy around the user’s orders. For the users it reduces the wait time between ordering and receiving water and gives them transparency and acknowledgement of their water orders.

For many irrigation schemes that use a manual process, the time of day that an order is placed has a large impact on when the order can be fulfilled. Our service reduces this impact, and users are able to order water at all times of the day. If you would like to read about how the Rakaia River Irrigation Association has used our Water Ordering service you can read the full case study here.

Water Transfer

Irrigation schemes are at their most helpful and stressed during the summer months when water is on restriction. When this happens, schemes face the challenge of trying to fairly provide water to farmers who may need it urgently.

Many schemes use a systematic approach, randomly choosing a certain group who will receive water. However, this is not always the best solution as there will be some farmers who have access to water who don’t need it and many farmers who need it desperately but will not receive any.

This is the genesis of our Water Transfer service.  Farmers who need water can get it, and those that don’t are able to save money by selling the water they are allocated.

It works like this: scheme members can voluntarily choose to temporarily auction some of their water at a price of their choosing. Likewise, buyers bid for a volume of water with a price of their choosing – the clearing volume and price is determined by the buyer bid prices that exceed the seller’s reserve prices.

This creates a win-win solution that promotes the value of water, maximises water efficiency and economic outcomes.

Thousands of farmers rely on irrigation schemes to access water and run profitable operations. Our irrigation scheme services – Water Ordering and Water Transfer – can help streamline some of these scheme’s complex operations increasing efficiency and reducing risk. We offer affordable pricing and customisation to meet your individual scheme needs. If you are an irrigation scheme member and are interested in improving the services you offer your members, please contact us today.