Field service Featured

5:27am EDT October 31, 2001
The farmer working the field no longer turns on the irrigation system and lets the water flow for hours on end. There's no need.

A fully integrated data management system relays specific water needs from various points in the field so the farmer can specifically target exactly how much water needs to be applied to each part. The result is higher yields, with water usage rates 30 percent lower than before.

''The farmer can also take advantage of disease modeling,'' says John Mascoe, North American sales manager for agriculture product for Adcon Telemetry. ''Data is collected on environmental conditions, and the computer will predict the outset of disease. This tells farmers when the optimal time to spray for disease is. They only have to spray when it's necessary.''

This technology started out aimed at individual farms, but is growing into a larger network. There is already a provincewide network in Canada and a 350-station network in Florida.

''This allows us to provide regional data to growers,'' says Mascoe.

With water restrictions becoming a bigger problem for farmers, targeted waterings are becoming a must.

This same technology will eventually enter the consumer market. By putting one probe in your front lawn, another in your back yard and a third in your garden, you'll have information on what needs watered when and how to best avoid creating conditions that are ripe for diseases.

''If things progress the way they are going now, it's probably a year or so down the road,'' says Mascoe.

The way the system works is simple. Small probes inserted in the ground wirelessly relay data to a base station where the data is compiled. Sensors can be set to collect data as often as every five seconds.

The data is processed by software, which warns when predetermined water levels are too high or too low. How to reach: Adcon Telemetry, www.Adcon.com