Confirming irrigation events online

Australian manufacturer, MAIT Industries has answered the call from tree crop growers to provide a simple means of confirming that scheduled irrigation events actually occurred.

Irrigation event confirmation (IEC) is rapidly becoming a must-have tool for irrigators, as missed irrigations can very quickly turn into lost revenue.

MAIT Industries national sales manager Lindsay Parker said IEC works by logging and reporting the time and duration of irrigation events by measuring the water pressure downstream of the block control valve.

The graphical display is updated continuously and can therefore be checked by the operator even while an irrigation event is in progress. Missed irrigations, and potential losses in production, can be acted upon much quicker than would be the case if relying solely on soil moisture probes or direct plant sensors.

“As much as the irrigation control system – be it ours or another manufacturer – can confirm the valve was electrically activated, irrigation control valves can fail to open for a number of reasons, such as burnt out solenoids or blocked hydraulic control lines,” Mr Parker said.

“Not only that, but by monitoring the downstream pressure at the control valve we can pick up other irregularities such as blocked check filters or flushing valves inadvertently left open.”

The IEC tool is a set of graphs presented as a rolling calendar, where the irrigation valve pressures are plotted. By hovering the mouse over the valve pressure bar graph, a tooltip appears presenting a summary of the irrigation event, based on the recorded pressures.

“By simply scanning over the summary screen, missed events are obvious. Actually, you can see in the example where a valve failed to close and ran for over 24 hours,” Mr Parker said.

MAIT users can customise the graphs to suit their needs. Users can select the number of days to display, and whether the background image is a graph of the block’s soil moisture status, or simply colour coded shading which also represents the crop’s moisture status.

As part of the development of the IEC feature, MAIT also made improvements to the iNTELLiWEB user interface. Users are now able to define their property and each irrigation block as a satellite image overlay. Each block is linked to its respective soil moisture graph, and the current status is indicated by the block’s colour shading.

MAIT Industries has developed their irrigation control and monitoring systems based on user feedback and suggestions. Andrew Brown, managing director at MAIT Industries, says the requests for new features come from both the end user and their irrigation dealers. Demand for IEC was so strong that it is now available for both the iNTELLiTROL irrigation control software and the iNTELLiWEB monitoring system.

“Being an Australian company with our own in-house development team means we can react quickly to user requests,” Mr Brown said. “We take pride in having an ever-evolving solution for irrigators.

“Also, you can be sure with MAIT products that every new feature is backward compatible. Our first systems installed 25 years ago can make use of these new features.

“It is the growers, particularly orchardists, that are striving for industry best practice and good governance in food production that are coming to us with these ideas and suggestions.”

MAIT Industries are based in Melbourne, and supply through irrigation dealers nationwide.

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