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Precision ag methods can help conserve ground water: study


January 9, 2017
By Ground Water Canada

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Fayetteville, AR – A new study out of the University of Arkansas suggests improvements in remote monitoring technology may allow farmers to apply water to their crops more efficiently and conserve ground water.

Irrigated row-crop agriculture is contributing to declining ground water in areas such as the Mississippi Delta region of eastern Arkansas, says a news release through the journal Water.

There is a need to move toward sustainable levels of ground water withdrawal, the study says.

Recent improvements in remote monitoring technologies such as wireless soil moisture sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles offer the potential for farmers to effectively practise site-specific variable-rate irrigation management for the purpose of applying water more efficiently, reducing pumping costs, and retaining ground water, the study suggests. The study, entitled “Addressing Groundwater Declines with Precision Agriculture: An Economic Comparison of Monitoring Methods for Variable-Rate Irrigation,” compares soil moisture sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles in terms of their net returns per acre-foot and cost-effectiveness of aquifer retention.

Read the full study here.