Agricultural Management Options for Climate Variability and Change: Variable-Rate Irrigation (AE490)

Figure 1.  Example of management zones in an irrigated field having substantial variability in soil properties and planted areas. Colored zones indicate areas where irrigation is reduced or eliminated.Most fields are not uniform because of natural variations in soil type or topography. When water is applied uniformly to a field, some areas of the field may be overwatered while other areas may remain too dry. Variable-rate irrigation technology gives farmers an automated method to vary rates of irrigation water based on the individual management zones within a field and avoid irrigating roadways, waterways, wetlands, and other non-farmed areas within a pivot. This 3-page fact sheet was written by Calvin Perry, Clyde Fraisse, and Daniel Dourte, and published by the UF Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, July 2012.