PR41 - A software solution for growers and consultants

Software developed for growers who have more important things to do than sit in front of a computer.

Within half an hour users can be scheduling irrigations and identifying problems such as through-drainage and soil compaction. The software is simple to use, designed for working growers who need answers, while at the same time it has many advanced features for researchers.

The software allows growers and consultants to make informed irrigation decisions, thus increasing yield.
It is used by:

Irrigation Scheduling

By regularly measuring soil water content you can find out exactly your crop daily water use. Project this ahead to accurately predict the irrigation date. The daily water use (DWU) will be for this crop, in this soil, with this year's conditions - not an average crop on average soil in an average year.

The software calculates three irrigation dates using DWU from:

  1. what is actually happening in the soil
  2. an estimate by the user, based on what you think is likely to happen
  3. long-term historical behaviour data

The user is in full control - if you think the weather is going to get hotter, and the DWU is going to rise, change the DWU !

The historical data can be either from your own experience, or from ET0 and crop factors published by agricultural departments.

The Site Report lists each site with its current soil moisture status, ranked in order of irrigation priority - just what is needed for the busy scheduler.

A depth graph showing the full, refill and latest soil moisture profiles and a summary with predicted irrigation dates allows a consultant to give an immediate report to a grower.

Allocation Report

This report summarises the water requirements of the farm over, say, the next two weeks. Peaks and troughs in water demand can be seen, and water ordered. The report can also be fed to automatic irrigation systems.

An end-of-season summary of the water used and the efficiency of the entire farm, on a week-by-week and site-by-site basis, can also be produced with this report.

Keydata

The software can record other crop details - fruit size, petiole nitrogen, crop stage. The data can be either entered on a hand-held unit in the field and then uploaded to the software, or entered manually on the PC keyboard. Either way, the data can be graphed with soil moisture.

Weather

Weather data can be downloaded from mainframe computers, from a local weather station, or simply typed in from your own observations. This information can then be graphed so that, while looking at your crop behaviour you can smoothly include relevant weather info.>

Functions

The software can calculate, for example, a water stress factor by dividing the DWU by pan evaporation; or the rate of change of fruit diameter, or the cumulative total water use during the season.

Effective irrigation and rainfall

Delivering 100 mm of irrigation water, or a rainfall of 50 mm is one thing, but did it actually infiltrate into the root zone ?
The software allows for effective irrigation and rainfall amounts, so that the efficiency of your irrigation system can be calculated.

Time graphs

A picture is worth a thousand words - soil moisture and crop development graphed over the entire season show immediately the effect of water stress or over-irrigation. Time graphs can plot any items - soil water content, crop water use, petiole nitrogen, air temperature.

The time axis can be either date, or days-since-planting, or crop stage.

Overlaid graphs

Graphs can be overlaid, allowing for site-to-site or year-to-year comparisons. Different sites or farms, or the same site but different years, can be compared. By doing this the soil water extraction profiles from different sites or water use patterns from different seasons can be compared

Management decisions that have affected crop water use and growth, and therefore yield, can be assessed (see over). Spray irrigators can use this facility to compare wetting and drying patterns at individual trees and sprinklers.

Export to other software

Text reports and graphs can be exported to spreadsheets, word processors, and graphic editors. A report being written with Microsoft Word could have a sites report and graphs inserted into the document, or Lotus Freelance can be used (with export in PIC, DXF or CGM format) to prepare graphs for publication or display.

Units and calibrations

Users can choose to display in mm, cm, hectares; or in/ft; ft, ins, and acres.

The software displays volumetric water content, but only stores the raw data from neutron probe and other sensors. The actual calibration equations can be changed at any time.

Support, Application Notes and Training

Included with the software is installation, 12 months telephone support, and an extensive range of application notes, written by working growers and agronomists, describing actual problems and solutions. Introductory and advanced training courses are run throughout the world.

System Requirements

IBM 80x86 or compatible, 640k RAM, 1Mb fixed disk space, running MSDOS.

Macintosh, 2 Mb RAM

Conclusion

With the Probe software, growers have smooth access to a wide range of soil moisture, crop and weather data. In todays world of increasing power costs. growing restraints on water use due to environmental concerns and diminishing availability of water, the Probe software merets a very real need.