How to Get Started with Irrigation Automation Using FieldNET® by Lindsay
Just a couple of years ago, this would have been unheard of, but now you can manage your farm irrigation system using your smartphone. In this blog post, we’re going to talk about a new trend in the farming industry: using apps with smart technology to manage irrigation systems. Heck, the FieldNET® tools can even help you master your crops while still using a flip-phone!
So, you already know that keeping track of the weather and knowing when you need to irrigate your crops is a big part of farming. And that it is important to use the right amount of water at the right stage of growth for each crop to get the best yield and prevent waste. But you may not know about how you can take advantage of the latest innovations in wireless and satellite technology to enable remote monitoring and control for your irrigation systems. Let’s clear that up…
There are several options you can choose from to get started with irrigation automation. And FieldNET doesn’t just work with Zimmatic pivots, it is compatible with almost any brand of center pivot and lateral pivot. You can start as simple as you want – one pivot at a time!
FieldNET encompasses the following products and you can mix and match according to your needs:
- Monitor with FieldNET Pivot Watch™ and CircleScout™
- Analyze with FieldNET Advisor® and WaterTrend
- Control with FieldNET Pivot Control, Pivot Control Lite, and Pressure Transducer
Even if you just have a flip phone, you can get a text message if your machine shuts down. Real Time Alerts can be configured to be delivered via push notifications, text, or email to notify you immediately if there are performance issues. Multiple people can receive the alert, including the specific issue so you can respond sooner, saving valuable resources and time.
1. The FieldNET Monitors
FieldNET Pivot Watch is the entry-level tool to get started with remote irrigation monitoring. This is a monitoring-only device that attaches to the last tower (electric or hydraulic) and utilizes cellular towers (e.g., Verizon/ATT) to communicate with its app. It is solar powered so no electric lines needed, low maintenance, easy DIY installation, and is very affordable at just $299. You can even buy it on Amazon and have it delivered to your door – and, yes, Woofter will still help you out with any questions or service-related issues!
Th device sends real-time data to the app regarding the presence of water, current position, status, direction, and speed. The access to the Pivot Watch app itself (including WaterTrend) requires a subscription of $100 annually per unit. This is less than the other FieldNET subscriptions since this is only doing monitoring and not controlling. We have over 70 of these out in the field since they came out a couple years back and we can attest that they work great and are absolutely worth it – simple, yet mighty! See more details on Pivot Watch at https://www.lindsay.com/usca/en/irrigation/brands/fieldnet/remote-irrigation-solutions/remote-irrigation-monitoring/pivot-watch/.
For those that don’t have the best cell coverage in the field, Lindsey now has you covered with a monitor-only device called FieldNET CircleScout. Just released this past winter, these units run off satellite! CircleScout monitors the same real-time data on pivot direction, speed, GPS position, status, and water availability as the Pivot Watch, but it also has ability to sense copper wire theft. It must tie in to system wiring but doesn’t require external power and does have an internal backup battery in case the power drops. Solar. The CircleScout units costs a bit more than Pivot Watch but the annual subscription is little less. See more details on CircleScout at https://www.lindsay.com/usca/en/irrigation/brands/fieldnet/remote-irrigation-solutions/remote-irrigation-monitoring/circlescout/.
2. The FieldNET Analyzers
An important feature Included for FREE with any FieldNET subscription is WaterTrend. Just input the planting date and other crop info and the WaterTrend calculates a 7-day water outlook for the crop. It gives forecasted crop water usage and precipitation amounts – taking into account field-specific forecasted rainfall amounts, crop growth stage, and crop water usage information. It shows trends in how crops are using water, enabling you to make better, data-backed decisions on when and how much irrigation is needed. And did we mention that WaterTrend is included at no extra cost with every subscription for FieldNET-equipped center pivots? Check it out!
3. The FieldNET Controls
Next step up from monitoring and analyzing is the ability to remotely control the pivots with FieldNET Pivot Control Lite. This device is a GPS globe attached to last tower of machine. It allows you to change the pivot’s speed, change direction, stop it entirely, and control the in-gun. This device is fully compatible with FieldNET Advisor on speed changes as well. Note that the Lite model can only be controlled via the app as there is no physical panel and you can’t use it to remote start the pivot, but it’ll know when it’s on and let you control once it’s started. The Pivot Control Lite will run ~$1100 plus installation and $180 annually for the app subscription.
For the ultimate level of control, we have the FieldNET Pivot Control device which has a full panel that mounts at existing pivot panel. It will allow you complete manual and remote-control of the pivot’s start, stop, speed, direction, and in-gun. This device is an excellent choice to replace controls on old machines that have worn out switches. With FieldNET Pivot Control, you can get a fancy new control box at the existing panel while still keeping your old machine! This device runs ~$1700 plus installation and $300 annually for the app subscription.
Last but certainly not least, is the Pressure Transducer addon. This is a water pressure sensor for ~$250 that works with all FieldNET devices and is really useful. As you know, it’s important to maintain a minimum pressure level to water efficiently, and when you use multiple wells to pressure the system and one well shuts down, it can have a big impact and this little sensor will let you know. So even if you don’t have well controls, you can be alerted if there’s an issue!
4. The FieldNET Future
This article would be incomplete without mentioning Lindsay’s upcoming FieldNET product called “Smart Pivot” which is still in beta at this time (Q4 2021). This product will monitor machine stats be aware of overall system health, poor spray patterns and uniformity, plugged sprinklers, tire pressure, early wear, etc – it even connects the pivot directly to the dealership to send automatic notifications for service needs. It also uses sensors and terraneous precision scouting satellite imagery to help on the agronomy-side of crop health, such as detecting disease and pest issues, nutrient deficiencies, water requirement at different stages, even growth stage projections and stand counts. This is really cool new technology that is makes the pivot smarter and more interactive so you can be alerted ahead of a breakdown or crop health issue. The FieldNET Smart Pivot is a device and subscription combo and you can learn more about it at https://www.lindsay.com/smartpivot/.
Some final FieldNET notes to consider…
FieldNET is a set of advanced decision-making tools – not a set it and forget it system.
Even if you buy the items off Amazon and DIY your installations, Woofter will still provide you with all the service and support you’ve come to know and trust. When you buy any FieldNET product, we can help install it and setup the account in our store or help with onsite support and service. We offer full factory service and support on any FieldNET product. And they all have 2-year warranties and are really tough little units.
There are some ground-water management districts that offer cost share for this type of equipment and subscriptions as part of their sustainability efforts. And, as there is a water deficit in the plains, maximizing plant growth cycles and using water in a more efficient manner will not only save on water, but you might get more bushels per acre!
With this comprehensive FieldNET overview, we know that you can make the most informed decision for your farm irrigation automation needs. Give Daman Glover a call at 785-443-3966 to get started today!