As water supplies become limited, agricultural water use needs to become more efficient to maintain current productivity levels. The efficiency of center pivot and linear move irrigation systems can be increased by matching the amount and rate of water application to specific soil conditions that vary in the field. Such site-specific application can be achieved by variable-rate control systems. Although such systems are being developed, their effects on center pivot and linear move uniformity have not been documented. The uniformity along the length of a center pivot and a linear move irrigation system was measured at two system movement speeds and three variable-rate settings. One variable-rate system is commercially available using pneumatically actuated solenoid valves to turn groups of sprinklers ON and OFF at fractions of a minute corresponding to the cycle rate, for example a 50% cycle rate is 30 s ON and 30 s OFF. The other variable-rate system used commonly available electric solenoid valves to accomplish the same task. Overall, the coefficient of uniformity and low quarter distribution uniformity averaged 93% and 0.90, respectively for the center pivot irrigation system; 84% and 0.74 for the linear move system. The results were not significantly (P > 0.05) affected by wind speed, cycling rate, or system movement speed. The type of nozzle did influence the uniformity because of the distinctly different application characteristics of rotator, fixed plate, and wobbling low pressure sprinklers. Thus, the variable-rate technologies tested under the conditions presented in this paper had at least as good uniformity as the center pivot and linear move systems when functioning in non-variable-rate mode.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 31, 2006
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