Optimizing Soil Irrigation: Water Efficiency for Better Yields

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Mastering irrigation timing is vital to achieving maximum yield potentials in crops. Optimizing your field's irrigation plan helps improve water use efficiency, sustainability metrics, and overall crop health. Soiltech’s Beacon sensors capture an industry-leading number of data points that, combined with the Insights platform, allow you to easily visualize all necessary parameters for real-time decision-making, ensuring you will maximize returns through irrigation and other inputs.

How to ensure irrigation uniformity

Even water distribution across the field is key to ensuring the crop growth stage is consistent throughout the entire season. However, non-uniformity can result from different soil types, the impact of wind, nozzle clogging, or other issues that are important to manage.

Identifying and solving for non-uniformity is challenging without real-time data from across the field. The default solution is to increase or decrease the flow, which leads to more complications such as increased fuel and electricity use which costs farmers money and delays the application process. Deploying Beacons provides a ground-truthed, real-time visualization of your field's current conditions to quickly identify areas of concern and keep your operations running smoothly.

Selecting the right watering equipment supports irrigation uniformity as a crucial planning factor. But that is rarely the primary issue, which is best identified with high-resolution data across the field to account for wind, soil types, equipment issues at a point, or other twists and turns like mechanical failures, aquifer changes, or variables from Mother Nature herself that are impossible to plan for, but require quick action.

Reducing water waste

When water supply is not an issue, farmers might overlook properly timed irrigation. For example, many switch between 12- to 24-hour watering intervals. Although prolonged irrigation intervals are more convenient and less labor-intensive, they can result in significant water waste.

In particular, if the water supply is already limited, wasting it can critically reduce ROI. Optimizing water use can prevent fertilizer leaching and preserve valuable topsoil from runoff. The same applies even if there's enough water. It is just smart management.

As a best practice, try to capture and repurpose water runoff into irrigation systems. This helps reduce wasteful drainage and enhances the sustainability of your operation and score if you capture credits or apply them against an accreditation system.

Scheduling irrigation for success

Irrigation scheduling and practices like installing supplementary watering systems can help improve efficiency. Including the exact water amounts, duration, and downtime in your schedules makes a big difference. Planning ahead while being flexible based on the situation in the field, with the ability to be precise, is key to maximized outputs.

Evapotranspiration is another essential factor in a smart irrigation schedule. Water needs vary by season and fluctuations in weather conditions like temperature, rain, humidity, wind, soil retention characteristics, and crop type. Needless to say, the best time to irrigate depends on far more than when the field last received water. 

There are several ways to calculate evapotranspiration. For example, you can use the Penman-Monteith method. There are also ready-to-use charts from sources like the Bureau of Reclamation’s AgriMet system.

The best solution, however, is to use robust, real-time, and accurate solutions like Soiltech’s Beacon sensor, which monitors key soil, weather, and crop health data points, including moisture, by the minute. Using Soiltech data maximizes your irrigation resources while allowing full-cycle traceability and processing insights.


Improving irrigation is vital for a sustainable operation and for agriculture to maintain its freedom to operate as an industry. Combine the right technologies with smart scheduling to get the most out of the water you use.

Connect with us to learn how Soiltech Wireless solutions can optimize your operations and irrigation practices.