On Wednesday I drove up to Farmington to attend the annual Dakota County Crops Day. There were a number of presentations on nitrogen management. Nitrogen management is even more critical in Dakota County then it is at my farm in southern Minnesota. Coarse textured soils in Dakota County are more prone to nitrogen leaching and loss than my heavy silt loam soils. There was also discussion on resistance and weed management. I also found very interesting the presentation on irrigation and the technology now available.

I do not have any experience with irrigation as you do not see it in Southern Minnesota. I remember the first time I drove through Dakota County after joining KDHL. I saw all the center pivot irrigation systems. I had no idea there were so many acres under irrigation so close to home. While at the Dakota County Crops Day, I talked with Steve Sveum, vice president of sales and marketing for Agsense. Agsense is a company that developed the technology to control the center pivot irrigation rig.

The computer that controls the center pivot rig can be programmed to apply a certain amount of water. Before this technology, the entire field would receive the same amount. But there are areas of the field that do not need as much water as others. There might be different soil types in the field with different water holding capacity. With this technology you can program the computer to apply only the water that is needed in each area.

It is also amazing that you can control the center pivot irrigation rig from your laptop computer in your office or even on your smart phone. You can see how much water was applied for the current cycle or for the year. You do not have to drive to each field with irrigators running to check on them. You can see from your laptop or cell phone that everything is OK. If there is a problem, the computer will send you a message on your cell phone.

Yes, it seems computers and cell phones control the world! But, think about how much more efficient irrigation has become. It costs money to pump water from a well. Plus, you do not want to pump more water than is needed from the aquifer, so this new technology is more environmentally friendly too. I was also surprised when Steve told me these computer controllers can be put on irrigation rigs that are even 20 or 30 years old!

More From KDHL Radio