Spending hours each day driving to the field, starting, stopping, and checking on your centre pivot is now a thing of the past. With recent advances in irrigation technology, many growers are taking advantage of equipment that lets them manage their pivots remotely. With the right equipment, you can streamline your operation without missing out on the things that really matter in life – whether it’s dinner with the family or re-investing that time into other areas of your farm. Increasing the efficiency of your operation will not only give you more time, but can also lower labor costs.
Learn the Lingo!As you leap into the world of irrigation remote control technology, you may hear some unfamiliar lingo. Understanding what specific terms mean will make a big difference when you are selecting technology products. Here are some terms to be familiar with:
AppAn app is software that lets you perform a certain task. You can use apps on your computer (known as desktop applications) or on a mobile phone or device (these are called mobile apps). In the irrigation control technology world, the app is what you will use to monitor/control your machine.
The CloudCloud computing means you are using the Internet to store, manage, and process data rather than hosting everything on your own computer. This may sound intimidating, but many times the benefits of cloud computing outweigh the risks. Using “the cloud” means you will not have to worry about updating software or whether your computer may crash because everything is stored on a remote server. Working from the cloud makes it much easier to access your data from any mobile device. Most companies that use the cloud use secure servers and have redundancy plans so your data is secure and backed-up, but you can always ask companies about how your data is processed and stored.
TelemetryThis is the sending and receiving of data. Telemetry is how the equipment in the field and the computer or mobile device talk to each other. Many times you will hear the term RTU, or Remote Telemetry Unit. The RTU is what is gathering the data about the position and status of the equipment and sending it through the Internet or mobile data to be viewed on your computer or mobile device.
Wi-FiWi-Fi is the Internet connection available wirelessly. With Wi-Fi technology you don’t have to connect to a network via a “hard-wire” or cable to access the Internet.
What Control Technologies Do
There are many remote control products in the irrigation market today, the key is knowing what you want and how to ask the right questions to get exactly that. With some products, like BaseStation3™ from Valley® Irrigation, you can designate multiple users to monitor or control all or select machines. This is really valuable for operations where multiple people need monitor or control access to different machines. With this tool, you can group and filter machines by location, type, crop, etc. The multiple grouping options and user-control options allow you to assign a particular user to a specific machine or group of machines. With these groups and security levels, a variety of management tools can be tailored to nearly any operation.
What Should I Ask?
• Will there be more than one person who needs access to control/monitor my equipment?
• What other equipment would I like to be able to control on my farm?
• What devices will I want to use for equipment management? Smartphone? Tablet? Computer?
• Are my specific devices compatible with the product?
Knowing a little bit about what’s out there and what you want will help you have better discussions with a dealer and will ensure you end up with exactly what you need for your operation. To find out which control technology product will be the best fit for your operation, learn more with the online training courses at www.irrigation.education.