Step 10: Irrigation

Potatoes are sprinkled on the van den Borne farm because the potatoes are grown on sandy soil that is very drought sensitive. Irrigation replenishes the moisture shortage and allows the plant to grow optimally. To do this in the most efficient way, two different techniques are used: Soil moisture sensors that determine the moment of irrigation and a control program that makes it possible to irrigate within parcel boundaries and with a variable roll-up speed.

Soil moisture sensors:
Soil moisture sensors come in all shapes and sizes, at Van den Borne potatoes we use Dacom's soil moisture sensors. These measure on the soil moisture at different depths in the soil. The soil moisture sensors that indicate a too low value of soil moisture are displayed in Dacom so that these plots can be sprinkled.

Dacom uses the TerraSen pro sensors, which measure up to a depth of 60 cm for every 10 cm of the moisture status of the soil. The sensors transmit a radio signal that is reflected by the soil water. The amount of soil moisture can be determined on the basis of the time it takes for the signal to be reflected and the strength of the returned signal. The sensors are linked to a weather station that measures precipitation, wind speed and radiation. All this data is automatically forwarded via base stations. This allows the irrigation moment to be accurately determined. By applying this method, we start and stop earlier than before. The water volumes have decreased per application, the number of irrigation cycles has increased. The yield has increased by 15 till 20% compared to a normal irrigation regime.

Raindancer is a fleet management program that focuses on irrigation. Raindancer provides an overview of all reels that are currently running on your company with current information. For example, the program shows where a reel is located, when it is inside, how much pressure it has, etc. In addition, information is also available about the plots that have been irrigated lately. The possibilities with the program are:

  • Overview of the irrigaters on the farm
  • Current information irrigaters
  • Reporting malfunctions
  • Irrigate planning
  • A remote control 

To make this possible, a GPS module is placed on the reel so that the location of the spraycannon of the reel is always known. This also makes it possible to load field boundaries in Raindancer. Because the location of the cannon and the field boundaries are known, the angle at which the cannon sprays can be automatically adjusted so that all water is given within the field boundaries. The reel winding speed can also be variably set based on the set number of millimeters to be irrigated. This makes it possible to irrigate variably on the working width of the reel. The operating system of a reel is shown below, with which the reel can be controlled remotely from the telephone or computer.


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