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Precision brings clarity in murky waters

Navigating the murky waters of water security demands precision. The Creamer Media Mid-year brief on Water for 2023 warns of impending water crises, attributing the risk to factors such as insufficient infrastructure investment, climate change, and population growth. “South Africa’s water security challenges are intensifying, with some experts warning that the country faces a future of regular water-shedding, or rationing, with expectations of a water deficit of 2.70 billion to 3.80 billion cubic metres a year by 2030.”

While pages could be filled discussing the necessary governmental fixes for the water crisis, let's focus on agricultural water use and what we can do. We do not use water in isolation, let’s remember to protect water security in our continued drive for food security.

Amid debates on municipal mismanagement and wasted water in other sectors, agriculture must tighten the belt with increasingly efficient irrigation. Agriculture takes centre stage, being the largest consumer of water in South Africa at approximately 60% of total usage. With increasing pressure to reduce water consumption, the agricultural industry finds itself at the forefront of the battle for sustainability.

Efficient irrigation is not only about using water responsibly, but also about the vital task of ensuring food security and sustainability across the globe. Importantly, all role-players, including government, industry, academia, and organised agriculture must work together in reaction to the call to grow more with less.

We must continue to find new ways to apply water, as one of the most scarce and important resources. We must develop new technologies and practices that increase water use efficiencies. If not - farmers will not be able to keep up with the demand for food with the limited resources at their disposal. If we, industry, farmers, government, and the public alike, are not proactive now to manage our water resources sustainably, dire consequences will follow. Water scarcity poses a risk to our social order, food and economic security and ultimately human existence.

Across agricultural sub-sectors there are many success stories where farmers are successfully growing more with less. There is a common passion for sustainability and a drive to use resources responsibly among agricultural role-players. Given our challenges, this drive can only increase. What do we need to rise to the challenge?

We need efficiency, predictability, productivity, technology, excellence, control, consistency, reliability, peace of mind and success. Luckily there is a solution that is synonymous with all of this. Precision. 
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Why precision? Because it delivers results. The advantages of precision irrigation are numerous, and the ripple effect of precision irrigation is evident, with farmers often reporting that adopting precision irrigation fosters a broader culture of precision in their practices.

Precision irrigation delivers a clear proposition: Boost yields, save time and money by delivering the correct amount of water and nutrients at the correct time and in the right place with no waste, irrespective of topography or climate. Experience proves it slashes water usage by up to 50%, fertilizer needs by up to 30%, and elevates crop productivity by 30 to 50% with significant improvements in crop quality.

The perks of precision? Significant water savings, optimal root-zone management, lower maintenance and labour requirements, reduced fertiliser and energy requirements, less evaporation and run-off, reduced topsoil losses. The list goes on.

Users of precision irrigation report the ability to irrigate larger areas at the same time, fully utilise available land, and access the plant’s root-zone when needed, despite ground covers.  Optimal root-zone management leads to less soil compaction and better root performance, as well as optimal growth in challenging soil. The ability to deliver nutrients through the precision irrigation system allows precise delivery of nutrients to the root zone, prevents fertiliser leaching beyond the root-zone, minimises contamination of soil and groundwater and ensure well-timed nutrient delivery throughout the season.

Yes, precision Irrigation is for you. Some farmers believe that precision irrigation is very complicated and difficult to use. This is not the case, in fact most systems are easy to use and extremely reliable. However, successful precision irrigation must have good irrigation system operation and maintenance. Correct system component selection is also very important, as the correct tools must be selected for every job and quality must be prioritised.

Be sure to consider the necessary specifications to determine which irrigation components are required and can be relied on in your field. It all boils down to what your crop needs.

Precision irrigation equipment selection is about selecting the correct product for the crop and circumstances, selecting a quality product that can do the job at hand in difficult conditions and selecting the product that will offer the best return on investment.

In a world grappling with water scarcity, precision irrigation emerges not just as an option but as a necessity. As we collectively strive for a sustainable future amid many challenges, precision becomes the guiding principle, steering agriculture towards resilience, efficiency, and success. Precision means success.

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