Articles, Blog

July is Smart Irrigation Month

Donald, tell us why “Smart Irrigation Month” is important to Georgian’s, not just farmers,
but consumers of agricultural products. [Donald Chase/Chair, Upper Flint Regional
Water Council] Well, I think, the point of “Smart Irrigation
Month” is to increase in farmer’s minds the awareness of how we use water, of how vitally
important water is to us, how we can use it more efficiently, and still produce, you know,
the same high-quality, high-yielding crops that we’ve always done. And, so, you’re correct in that it’s not just
for us farmers, but it’s for the consumers because they are expecting those products
that they get in the summertime from Georgia, watermelons, sweet corn, all those wonderful
fresh produce things. And, so, I think it’s good for us to always
ask ourselves, “How can we do this more efficiently?” [Kenny]
I know summertime, particularly, farmers need to water. We typically have some really dry months in
periods of time in Georgia. Why July? Is there a reason for that? [Donald]
Well, I think, it’s probably peak irrigation season for most crops. The cotton and peanut crops are kind of reaching
that prime time for bloom, and fruiting. And the corn is still getting a little bit
of that. So, I think, our big crops in Georgia are
at their peak usage in terms of water at that point. [Kenny]
Seems like there’s a lot of very important people that recognize that water is such a
wonderful commodity that we have. The governor’s behind this. Farm Bureau has gotten behind this. You have the USDA and conservationists are
working on this. Because it’s so well recognized by so many
different entities, where do you see this going? Do you see this catching on and something
that people will look to every year to know that we’re going to remind producers and others
that we really need to be protecting the water supply? [Donald]
I think, I hope we do it every year. I hope, it’s always good to remind ourselves. I will say this, though, that, I think, farmers
in large part are trying and making those changes in our irrigating, and in our systems,
both in the technology that we employ. And, I think there’s been an increasingly
wider adoption of smart sensors where we’re actually measuring the moisture in the soil,
and comparing that to the curves, the wider usage curves of our crops so that we’re paying
a lot more attention to it. And that’s what this, what “Smart Irrigation
Month” would do for us, is to allow us to, “Hey, yeah, let’s pay attention, again.” [Kenny]
Technology has brought us so far along, hasn’t it? [Donald]
Yes. [Kenny]
It’s changed the dynamics. [Donald]
Yes, indeed. I… and it’s not, you know, one of the interesting
things that we saw in peanut research is that, even though July tends to be one of our wetter
months, the planting peanuts about the 1st of May, tends to bring them into that fruiting
stage in July. And so, not only are we using technology to
monitor our particular individual fields, but on an aggregate, I think, we’re trying
to figure out when’s the best time to plant to maximize those natural showers that come
in. [Kenny]
One other question. Have more and more producers began to take
on these adaptive measures so that they can be responsible and very closely monitor the
water usage that they have? [Donald]
I think so. From year to year we see different weather
challenges. If you’ll recall, the last three weeks of
May were not particularly conducive to planting things, and getting things done. So, I think, that caused probably some delays
in planting. But, I think, most people try to get things
done on a timely manner, get their crops planted so that they can maximize those natural showers
and know that’s a smart irrigation strategy as well is to try to you know, plan around. We can’t predict when they’re coming. But, at least, you know, try to manage so
we can optimize that usage of our thunderstorm showers, and, then, manage our irrigation
to work around that.

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