Early this summer, we installed several prototypes of our Smart Drop sensor on centre-pivot irrigation systems in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Smart Drop system presents a new and unique way of collecting field-scale soil moisture data. Each system consists of several microwave soil moisture sensors which can measure root-zone moisture even through a dense canopy. The sensors are mounted on the horizontal truss rods of the pivot structure. With each pivot revolution, the system collects accurate soil moisture data along each track, which are then converted into an up-to-date soil moisture map showing moisture conditions of the entire field.
With support from the Canada Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, as well as Hilton Ventures Ltd., we are currently verifying the accuracy and exact sensing depth of Smart Drop and are working hard with farmers and agronomists on ways to turn the information into actionable recommendations for irrigators. We are extremely pleased with the results so far and are confident that very soon we will be able to offer our system to early adopters.
Below are maps of volumetric water content acquired at different times (red: low moisture, blue: high moisture). This field has serious variability in soil texture and topography, which results in significant variations in root zone moisture. Imagine receiving such a map with every pivot rotation (or every day, in a future version of Smart Drop) on your smartphone, tablet, or PC and making your irrigation decision with confidence, knowing exactly the moisture conditions of your fields.
As we are moving closer to commercialization, we are looking for early adopters around the world – irrigators seeking to maximize efficiency, save water, or increase yield and quality through better irrigation management. We are also looking for opportunities to work with pivot manufacturers to feed Smart Drop data directly into the pivot controller.