Tools for measuring the amount of water reaching your crop can be very simple, such as using a rain gauge or digging a hole, or they can be very complicated. However, while SA is at the forefront of global innovation in irrigation, the country suffers from a lack of human capacity to optimally introduce these innovations to all farmers. This is not always the case.
For example, in KZN automatic weather stations collect all the relevant climatic information and convert it into crop water requirements through a crop model. This system, known as CaneSim, is used by KZN sugar farmers. Using a host computer, these automatic weather stations transmit SMSes to farmers’ cellphones telling them how much water to apply.
Thus the farmer can use less water, for a better crop and ultimately a better return. This system was invented by Dr Abraham Singels and won him a Water Save (WatSave) Award, a prestigious international accolade from the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage. Dr is only the third South African to receive this award. – Sharon Götte Contact Dr Singels on (031) 539 3205 or e-mail [email protected]
Stopping center-pivot theft
Valley Irrigation’s GSM Alarm System is tailored specifically to alert farmers to cable theft and tampering with doors at control systems’ enclosures. The alarm which also monitors machine safety, alerts farmers via cellphone, explains Emile van der Merwe, Valley Irrigation operational manager. The system works on both SMS and voice calls and farmers can record up to four messages depending on the problems likely to arise. Farmers can enter 10 preprogrammed numbers.
“Calls have to be answered by pressing star or hash on the keypad, otherwise the system calls the next programmed number,” says Van der Merwe. “If it goes to voicemail it won’t register the call as answered.” The GSM Alarm is also suitable for community policing forums.
One of the teething problems, according to Valley Irrigation sales manager Gert van der Werff, is that it’s preferable to take out a cellphone contract rather than using the prepaid service for the notification service, because if farmers forget to top up their prepaid accounts they stop receiving notifications. The price is currently set at about R7 000 excluding VAT. – David Steynberg Contact Valley Irrigation on (011) 814 7007.