Constantly depleting freshwater sources are a serious concern with a growing population and increasing demand for clean water. Additionally, water pollution is also considered one of the most crucial environmental challenges for the world today.
Clean water is used for a variety of activities, such as agricultural activities, which constitute the maximum consumption of water. It is necessary to have sufficient water for irrigation purposes to harvest healthy crops in order to feed the global population.
According to the International Water Management Institute, the agriculture sector, which uses roughly 70% of the world's total water withdrawals, is continually struggling with a limited supply of water. Moreover, there is a limited supply of water for home, industrial, and environmental applications.
Thus, to find solutions to deal with water scarcity, the agricultural industry is relying on advanced technological innovations such as smart irrigation systems.
Smart irrigation systems for farming have the potential to manage and reduce water usage. Smart equipment, such as smart irrigation controllers, allows a better understanding of the soil as well as crop moisture content. Automating irrigation operations leads to higher efficiency, eventually reducing the operational cost of irrigation.
Smart irrigation controller equipment further provides timely notifications related to abnormalities in soil, water leakage, and other dysfunctions and helps in managing the good long-term health of the landscape.
However, due to a lack of awareness as well as technical knowledge of tech-based farming, many farmers in various parts of the world are not able to derive the benefits of smart irrigation equipment.
Raising Awareness with Smart Irrigation Month
July is known as Smart Irrigation Month in honor of the technology that has made water conservation possible across the world.
The Irrigation Association of the U.S launched the Smart Irrigation Month campaign in 2005 with the goal of enlightening people about the advantages of smart irrigation technologies, goods, and services. In the irrigation process, there are many instances of water wastage. One is specifically related to sprinklers because people turn them on but forget to turn them off.
As a result, the idea of "smart irrigation" was developed to guarantee that the appropriate technology is employed when it is needed.
The goal of Smart Irrigation Month is to increase public awareness about water scarcity by promoting water-saving practices, lowering utility costs, preserving green spaces, and safeguarding a community's water supply.
Educating property owners, companies, farmers, and other end users about easy strategies for reducing their water and energy costs is essential for promoting smart irrigation systems for farming.
Importance of Smart Irrigation Controllers in Advanced Irrigation Systems
Smart irrigation controllers can be used in a variety of settings, including residential, commercial, agricultural, and sports fields. Based on climate change, weather-based controllers gather data, whereas soil-based controllers provide solutions depending on the moisture content of the soil.
Wi-Fi-enabled smart irrigation controllers are now commercially available, and they can be remotely controlled using a variety of mobile applications. The efficiency of smart irrigation controllers promotes correct irrigational practices and lowers water use and wastage.
The agriculture sector has undergone a radical transformation due to the Internet of Things (IoT). With the help of software solutions and the integration of sensors into conventional irrigation controllers, a significant amount of meteorological and soil-related data can be properly analyzed, giving farmers and growers the knowledge they need to manage water demand through strategic scheduling.
Previously, smart irrigation controllers were only used in large landscapes and corporate farming. However, with technological advancements, the use of smart irrigation controllers has increased.
Furthermore, smart irrigation was only widely used in developed nations. However, developing nations have also come to understand the value of precision irrigation techniques. The rising acceptance of smart irrigation solutions is a result of the greater use of smart irrigation controllers in nations such as China and India.
The necessity and benefits of these technologies have been acknowledged by the governments of various nations, and as a result, their efforts to promote smart irrigation are anticipated to help in the market's expansion.
According to BIS Research analysis, the global smart irrigation controllers market was valued at $588.47 million in 2021, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.98% and reach $1.81 billion by 2027.
Types of Smart Irrigation Controllers
Two types of smart irrigation controllers are available in the industry to efficiently complete the irrigation schedules. These are weather-based controllers and soil moisture-based controllers. These controllers are expected to improve irrigation efficiency and reduce water wastage.
1. Weather-based controllers: These controllers are also known as evapotranspiration (ET) controllers. They use weather data to calculate the amount of water being used in the fields. “Evapotranspiration” is a term generally used to refer to the combined processes through which water moves from the surface of the Earth into the atmosphere.
It includes both water transpiration and evaporation. A typical weather-based controller modifies its irrigation schedule based on the local weather to provide the necessary amount of water to the area.
Wind, solar radiation, humidity, and temperature are the four primary weather factors that a conventional weather-based controller uses to determine the precise needs of the landscape.
The amount of water used has decreased significantly because of ET controls. For instance, homeowners having ET-based controllers have observed a reduction in the usage of water by 20% more as compared to the planned irrigation facility.
Additionally, through research conducted on the grass of St. Augustine city, Florida, in 2018, it was found that there was no degradation in turf quality despite an average water saving of more than 40% as compared to the facility’s scheduled irrigation system.
2. Soil-based controllers: The soil-based controllers use a soil moisture sensor installed in the root zone of the grass to determine the water requirement. The soil moisture sensor helps in determining the volumetric water content of the soil. The percentage of the soil's overall volume that is occupied by water is known as the volumetric water content.
When the water content exceeds a desirable pre-defined threshold, the controllers are set to open the valves and begin the irrigation operation. The predetermined threshold value varies from 10- 40%, depending on the type of vegetation and the soil.
Soil-based moisture controllers are anticipated to use less water as compared to conventional controllers. Moreover, these controllers do not compromise the quality of the landscape by more than 60% as compared to the ET controllers. Soil-based moisture controllers save more than 70% of the water required for irrigation as compared to household irrigation schedules. Furthermore, these controllers save more than 30% of the water during drought circumstances.
Farmers and growers are constantly searching for advanced agricultural solutions that may address the problem of food security while also assisting in effective farming. Additionally, the agriculture sector is the biggest consumer of fresh water. As a result, there is an increase in the use of smart agriculture techniques to conserve water and reduce water wastage.