T-L Irrigation: Boosting Efficiency

As water supply concerns continue to mount, especially in the central U.S. and westward, irrigation researchers and manufacturers are devising new ways to preserve the precious resource. This year, T-L Irrigation, Hastings, NE, re-launched its Precision Mobile Drip Irrigation (PMDI) system to do just that.

T-L Precision Mobile Drip Irrigation System
T-L Precision Mobile Drip Irrigation system

PMDI’s design actually combines two commonly known technologies. In-line drip hoses take the place of nozzles or sprinkler heads on center pivot or lateral-move systems. Drip lines are spaced at 60-inch intervals, and as they are pulled through a field, emitters within the driplines deliver an even water pattern across the full length of the irrigation system.

Emitters are spaced every six inches and put out about two gallons of water per hour (at 15 pounds of pressure). Studies have shown total water use efficiency at almost 95%.

The system has been tested and sold in the High Plains for crops such as corn, soybeans, milo and cotton. Most recently, T-L is developing a set-up for a farm operation in Texas that is aiming to raise 200-bushel corn with 12 inches of irrigation water per year.

“We’re seeing the most response in areas that are deficit irrigating,” says Dave Thom, vice president of marketing with T-L Irrigation. “They have limited water, and they’re trying to get as much crop out of every drop of water they have available.” Interest is also coming from areas that put allocations on farmers – growers receive a set amount of acre-inches per year from a water source, and they want to stretch that as far as possible.

Vegetable growers will be interested in the technology as well, seeing as the system doesn’t apply water to crop leaves — which can promote disease development.

Factors To Consider

Thom notes that PMDI offers some considerable advantages over conventional approaches. For instance, the system eliminates leaf evaporation and wind drift. “You could be out there irrigating in 40 mph winds, and nobody even knows you’re watering. You don’t see any water moving around the field, it’s just quietly dripping,” he says.

In addition, PMDI drip lines run behind the system, so wheels run on dry ground. This avoids deep wheel tracks, a real problem in some soils and cropping conditions.

Cost wise, Thom says a PMDI system is priced about the same as a mid- to high range center pivot sprinkler package. It is universally available for all new or used pivot or linear irrigation systems.

The pivot controls remain the same just like any other sprinkler package, so growers can use variable rate irrigation. T-L has teamed up with AgSense, Inc. to provide Web-based irrigation management through its Precision Link product. The technology allows full remote pivot control and monitoring capabilities.

Growers will need to make sure their water source is clean enough — and in some cases they’ll need to filter water so it doesn’t clog emitters. (Thom notes that the system uses the largest emitters on the market, so they won’t have as many problems as buried drip tape can run into.)  Then too, hoses get longer and longer as they extend out on a pivot, trailing up to 60 feet behind the end of the system. Growers should monitor these longer driplines to make sure they stay straight.

Thom says that although PMDI does require some additional management over conventional center pivot and lateral move equipment, user experience has shown the benefits of improved watering efficiency far outweigh the extra effort.

Perfect Timing

The PMDI design was actually patented 10 years ago, utilizing a hose used in the gold ore mining industry. The manufacturer of that hose discontinued the product, but last year T-L teamed up with Netafim Inc., a world leader in drip irrigation technology, to supply a comparable line.

Thom says this type of highly efficient application system really dates back to the 1980s, when Dr. Bill Lyle and Dr. Leon New at Texas A&M University developed low energy precision application (LEPA) of water in farm fields.

Instead of sprinklers delivering water over the crops, LEPA systems feature smaller sprinklers hanging down from the pivot span pipe above. Very close to the ground, a nozzle gently bubbles water onto the crops. Because the bubbler is so close to the ground, growers lose a lot less water to evaporation than with traditional spray irrigation. Plus, these low-pressure LEPA systems use less electricity.

“We tried to bring LEPA technology to Nebraska, but it was pretty much a failure,” says Thom. “We had more water, tighter soils and more slopes to our fields, so water just ran off.”

He felt that such a system could still be very efficient in Nebraska — and similar regions’ — conditions if they could find a way to make the water stay put. “I imagined if we could spread water out wider, then it would soak in, then the LEPA concept would work here too,” Thom says.

So the PMDI concept was born. Thom says though the system was absent from the market for several years, it’s time has truly come. “From here to the West Coast, everything in between, all we read about or hear about is saving water or water shortages,” he says. “Almost everything we do as a pivot manufacturer revolves around how we can save water. We’re directing all research and development toward that goal.”

Leave a Reply

Precision Irrigation Stories
Precision Irrigation
Precision Irrigation4 Important Ways Precision Technology Is Impacting Irrigation
October 12, 2017
Water management is becoming an increasing concern in agriculture, whether that’s dealing with too much or too little water. This Read More
forbes-agtech-summit
Precision IrrigationImproving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
September 13, 2017
I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and Read More
Israel-Irrigation-system-featured-image
Africa/Middle EastIsraeli Precision Ag Companies Lead in Water Use Efficiency, Ag Technology
August 16, 2017
In the last week, AgriHub, formed by farmers and consultants from Brazil, visited 10 Israeli agribusiness companies, including the Ministry Read More
Precision IrrigationDealership Celebrates 25 Years in the Irrigation Game
July 6, 2017
25 years ago, Bobby Kempenich had an idea. An idea to launch a business that combined his knowledge of irrigation Read More
Trending Articles
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Chatbot with your Plants?
September 26, 2017
(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Technology at Agrilevante
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
Latest News
Robotic-Field-Scanner
Specialty CropsOpinion: Agriculture’s Big Data is Coming to You
October 20, 2017
If you think your world is changing at a dizzying pace, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. That’s my takeaway from Read More
Ohio State
Data ManagementRecap: The Ohio State University Explores Ag Tech ROI a…
October 19, 2017
How do soybean producers begin to extract value from the vast selection of digital tools available in agriculture today? At Read More
Industry NewsAGCO, Climate Corp. Announce Digital Partnership
October 19, 2017
AGCO announced today a new digital partnership with The Climate Corp. that will provide AGCO customers the option to connect Read More
Industry NewsFieldReveal Inks Agreement with Texas Agronomy Outfit
October 19, 2017
FieldReveal has entered into an agreement with Ag Producers Cooperative of Dalhart, TX, to offer the full FieldReveal precision ag Read More
corn weather
Data ManagementSeasonal Weather Outlooks: High Risk Worth the Reward?
October 18, 2017
Often, when discussing weather service needs with a potential client, I am asked about the possibility of providing long-range weather Read More
Industry NewsAgDNA Announces Dealership Expansion
October 18, 2017
This week AgDNA surpassed their growth projections, announcing partnerships with eight new multi-store dealerships across the mid-west, mid-south and east Read More
Tomato-crop-India
AsiaIndia Maps 185 Districts Through Remote Sensing for Hor…
October 17, 2017
India’s Union Ministry of Agriculture has mapped 185 districts under a project using remote sensing technology to identify areas best Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient …
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Vector-and-Raster-image
Data ManagementUsing Vector Soil Data in a Raster World?
October 16, 2017
Why spend the time and resources to extract the NRCS ‘Soil SURvey GeOgraphic’ (SSURGO) soil polygons only to display the Read More
Precision Irrigation
Precision Irrigation4 Important Ways Precision Technology Is Impacting Irri…
October 12, 2017
Water management is becoming an increasing concern in agriculture, whether that’s dealing with too much or too little water. This Read More
DronesDroneLife: Global Ag Drone Industry Potentially Worth $…
October 12, 2017
Via DroneLife.com’s Jason Reagan: According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imag…
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Planet Labs satellite imagery
Industry NewsFarmers Edge, Planet Labs Announce Multi-Year Exclusive…
October 11, 2017
Farmers Edge announced today a strategic partnership to bring Planet’s best-in-class global monitoring platform to the Farmers Edge precision agriculture Read More
John Deere Combine Harvester at Hagen Farms
Decision Support SoftwareAg and Rail Equipment Uptime Critical for Good Harvest
October 9, 2017
Across the American Heartland, growers have started harvesting their crops for what the USDA predicts will be a good yield Read More
Ag Drone
Industry NewsBotlink, SST Announce Integration
October 6, 2017
Botlink has announced a seamless flow of actionable aerial data into the agX Platform. This integration makes it quick and Read More
corn field
Industry NewsEFC Purchases AgSolver Assets, Establishes New Sustaina…
October 6, 2017
EFC Systems announced it has purchased the assets of AgSolver Inc. The move establishes a new Agronomic Planning and Sustainabilty Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Australia/New ZealandNew Technologies vs. Agronomic Knowledge in Precision A…
October 4, 2017
As the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to rise, Australian broadacre growers are gearing up for Read More
Field Sky Beauty shot
Industry NewsClimate, West Central Distribution Join Forces on Phosp…
October 3, 2017
To help farmers improve productivity and return on their investment, West Central Distribution and The Climate Corporation have teamed up Read More