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December 16, 2016

Agritech: How South Carolina Farmers Are Conserving Water with Weather Stations

South Carolina farmers are getting help battling drought and saving water with irrigation technology.

Technology has always been a force that moves agriculture forward, and it’s being harnessed by South Carolina farmers to fight drought and conserve water, thanks to Clemson University irrigation specialist Jose Payero.  According to a release by Clemson University, Payero is putting real-time information on the weather, soil, and crops into the hands of farmers so they can make better decisions about irrigation. Read the details below.

Irrigation and South Carolina Farmers

Water usage has always been an important consideration for agriculture, and it will become even more important as the population grows and adverse weather conditions — such as drought — persist. “We are not making more land, so we need to make our land more productive while protecting our water resources,” Payero said in the piece.

Payero received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to install at least one weather station in every county in South Carolina, and he plans to have one in all 46 counties by the end of the year. The weather stations will transmit information about hyper-local weather, soil conditions, and moisture levels taken by sensors in the soil. Payero also is developing additional tools — like computer algorithms that calculate irrigation needs, moisture rates, and yield targets — to further assist South Carolina farmers.

The data will help South Carolina farmers stop the crop stress and reduced yields that result from underirrigating their crops, and to combat overwatering, too. The overirrigation of crops not only costs farmers extra money, it can lead to:

  • Soil erosion
  • Chemical runoff
  • Nutrient leaching

Potential Savings for South Carolina Farmers

Many farmers are “shooting in the dark” on irrigation, as one farmer said in the piece. Many South Carolina farmers welcome the efficiency, improved crops yields, and savings that come with the use of weather stations and moisture sensors.

Those savings can be significant. One irrigation study by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS) showed that savings from use of the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) and its suite of tools could amount to millions of dollars.

As the land-lending specialists, we at AgAmerica understand how important irrigation is to farmers in the Southeast and to everyone in agriculture. We’re supportive of any technology that helps save water and money; it aligns with our commitment to helping the nation’s farmers and ranchers grow and thrive using our low interest rates, long amortizations, and outstanding 10-year line of credit.

Would you like to learn more about your water and irrigation choices? Read AgAmerica’s Choices in Irrigation: Understanding The Latest Options.

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