Due to climate change, drought episodes are multiplying and gaining in intensity. Access to water is forcing agriculture to completely rethink its models.
Due to a structural drought, Morocco is increasingly confronted with a water deficit. More than ever, the adoption and deployment of farming practices that make it possible to better value water, is an essential orientation for sustainable agriculture.
One of the levers that responds to this challenge is the management of irrigation. The latter aims to maintain the water content of the soil at a sufficient level to meet the needs of the crop, while avoiding excess water. Too much water can lead to risks of root asphyxiation, low water level that is detrimental to production and heterogeneous distribution on the plot.
To this end, there exist decision support tools that allow the farmer to adapt irrigation on the basis of agro-pedo-climatic criteria. Two main types of tools exist: tools based on modeling and tools based on real-time measurements (e.g. capacitive probe).
The principle of capacitive probes is to measure soil humidity via the “dielectric permittivity of the soil”. This makes it possible to know the water stock at the depth explored by the probe. There are 2 types of capacitive probes: fixed ones, which continuously measure soil moisture in a given place on the plot, and mobile probes, which move to several places in one or more plots. Each probe is equipped with several sensors, thus, for each soil horizon, the probe provides the percentage of humidity, the temperature and the conductivity (figure 1).
The sensors are interconnected through a LoRaWAN network to provide a continuous reading of plant water stress. This allows efficient irrigation management based on real-time plant condition indicator parameters.
The data is then compiled in the form of graphs (figure 2) to explain the overall evolution of the soil water stock and to adjust the water inputs to the necessary amount.
*HCC (FC): field capacity = upper limit of the reservoir corresponding to the maximum quanityt of water store in the soil.
*HPF (PWP): permanent wilting point = lower limit of the reservoir corresponding to the quantity of water remaining inthe soil but not available for the plant.
The probes allow robust and precise control on all irrigated crops and all types of irrigation (localized, sprinkler and gravity). This is possible thanks to the various advantages related to; saving water, improving quality and yields by modulating the dose of irrigation according to the stages of development, and reducing the leaching of nutrients.
Piloting by modeling
The model based on the water balance makes it possible to pilot irrigation according to weather conditions and plot data provided by the farmer. SOWIT, through its SOWATER® decision support tool, estimates the weekly irrigation needs of crops. The precise measurement of evapotranspiration (ET0) makes it possible to estimate the water stress of the different areas of the orchard and to guide inspections of the irrigation systems. SOWIT uses satellite imagery to calculate the crop coefficient (KC) and thus provide daily modulation advice providing specific doses by irrigation sector.
Trust the technology, manage your irrigation and boost your yield!