INTA Manfredi presented the first equipment in the country that implements precision technology. This system, which is already in operation, makes it possible to regulate the doses of water applied by each sprinkler in a specific way, based on a previously generated prescription map. In this way, the producer can provide the precise amounts of water or fertilizers to each area of the field and each type of crop they produce, to maximize yields with an efficient use of resources.
Key benefits include lower energy consumption, equipment maintenance costs, and reduced excess water, runoff, and nutrient leaching. Therefore, in low-lying or flooded areas the need for irrigation is reduced or eliminated.
In addition, it will save water (due to the possibility of deactivating sprinklers or zones individually) and costs of fertilization or application of chemical products.
In the lot a continuous system of direct sowing is conducted where responses in yield of different cultivars, densities, sowing dates and rotations are evaluated; together with a monitoring system of water in the soil and monitoring of the evolution of the soil. In turn, balanced fertilization strategies are tested, in order to maintain the positive carbon balance.
More than 25 years in the study of irrigation
The first sprinkler equipment that INTA Manfredi had was a transportable central pivot (Lindsay), with 5 sections that irrigated an area of 30 hectares. In the following years, and with the support of the firms Netafim, Rivulis and Metzerplas, three underground drip irrigation modules were installed.
Also the cooperating association, responsible for production in the Experimental Station of said unit, incorporated around 500 hectares with irrigation, for agriculture and dairy farming, which positioned it as a benchmark on the subject, both in research and production.
Underground drip irrigation (RGS) is a technology that is growing steadily in Argentina and the rest of the world because, among other benefits, it allows water to be applied efficiently and with reduced energy consumption. “Experiments are currently being carried out to evaluate its adaptability and management in different extensive crops,” said Ignacio Severina, an irrigation specialist and member of the team.
Since 2012, they have had different demonstration modules, specialized in the efficient use of water for agriculture. The main objectives are to evaluate the effects on the distribution of water in the soil and its effects on the productivity of wheat, corn and soybean crops.
“When the system is installed, it is necessary to define the optimal distance between irrigation laterals for each production system, because these represent a high proportion of the total investment”, highlighted Severina. Other aspects such as the flow, the separation between emitters and the depth of burial, are key issues when sizing the equipment.
The results obtained through these years of work help the producer in making decisions, since supplementary irrigation constitutes a tool that allows not only increasing production, but also reducing the marked interannual variability of yields and optimizing inputs.
“The main aspect to consider in the adoption of irrigation technologies is the quality of the water used and its impact on the productive capacity of the soils,” said Salinas.
For this reason, the irrigation group, together with irrigation technicians and producers belonging to the Consortium of Groundwater Users, work permanently in the monitoring of water quality along with the changes experienced by the edaphic parameters of irrigated soils in the central region. north of the province of Córdoba. The information is dumped into maps that are available to current and future users.
In 2019, a sprinkler irrigation demonstration module was installed. This unique system in the world includes a solar power generation system together with the Hummingbird multitasking tool, which is mounted on a high-speed Valley pivot. This system will allow a greater use of the inputs and carry out an even more precise agriculture.
For Matías Boccardo, an irrigation researcher and member of the team, “it can be considered as a tool for adaptation to climate change, because it enables irrigation in places where there is no electricity or the provision of conventional energy is expensive.”
The working group? Composed of Aquiles Salinas, Matías Boccardo, Ignacio Severina, Juan Pablo Guibergia, Federico Aimar and Martin Boveda? He added that in the course of this year a new module is being installed where the application of liquid dairy effluents through underground drip irrigation will be evaluated, as a possible solution to a problem already installed in the region.