Just like fertilizer and seeds do, droughts too may increase the use of variable-rate. At present, effective farming has centered its focus on the saving of costs and the maximization of production. This has led to the maximization of key crop inputs such as fertilizers and seeds. However, all this seems ironic because water is the one resource that plays the most important role in the growth and development of crops.
However, many of the big farm producers have not fully come to the awareness of the importance of variable-rate irrigation, let alone embracing it. However, there are high hopes that they will soon come into terms with how much this technology can benefit their agricultural ventures. This is because pumping water is proving to be a costly venture and we are experiencing an increase of droughts in many parts of the country.
For instance, there are some regions in states such as Oklahoma and Kansas that are experiencing serious drops in wheat output because of persistent drought. In other places such as Nebraska, a good number of irrigation districts have gone ahead and imposed quotas on the annual quantity of water that can irrigate a particular crop.
As water scarcity continues to bite, many blames are being laid at the feet of agriculture as the key culprit. These blames hold some water since it takes oceans of water to grow crops. Some reliable publications paint a very grim picture of the situation. For instance, the Los Angeles Times points out that it takes some 21.84 gallons to produce an ounce of the protein that is used in a good soy burger.
Latest figures are telling that there are some 55.3 million acres of crops under irrigation in the USA. It is evident that these different farms require different amounts of water to grow different crops the same way it is with the fertilizers and seeds. That is why variable-rate irrigation comes in as a timely contributor towards the advancement of accurate and effective agricultural practices. However, sad enough, the key large-scale players in this sector are responding to it in a slow manner.
One of the reasons why they mainstream agriculture is still going slow on this technology is that its implementation is still unclear and wrapped in unnecessary controversy. This is because the implementation of this technology requires a lot of field data. Additionally, even in the presence of such data many of the large scale farmers’ center pivots do not have sufficient equipment to actualize the implementation of VRI technology.
Another hindrance that slows the rapid acceptance and effective implementation of this valuable technology is the vast disparity between the technology itself and the agronomical reality on the ground. The vendors and distributors of the VRI technology lack a proper understanding of the agronomical backbone that will expedite the successful implementation of the technology.
All this is going on despite the fact that variable-rate irrigation is loaded with numerous benefits that go beyond the saving of water. The technology has the capacity to facilitate huge saving on energy to such an extent that a great many of the players in the energy sector are contemplating the possibility of coming up with cost-sharing ventures with VRI systems.
However, the ball is in the court of the large-scale growers even as government policies and incentives seek to expedite the whole process. This calls for all the major players and stakeholders in the process to get themselves ready to roll out this technology on the ground with precision and success.