Preparing Canada’s Agriculturists for Another Drought Year

It’s no surprise– drought conditions are worsening across Canada.

According to Agriculture Canada, by the end of March 2024, 66% of the country was experiencing abnormal dryness or drought conditions, ranging from moderate to exceptional severity. This included 82% of the country's agricultural areas.

Water restrictions are even being implemented in several jurisdictions for both municipal and irrigation purposes across Southern Alberta in preparation for summer. These restrictions are likely to expand and may soon impact your local area.

The success of the agricultural sector hinges on proper hydration, making drought conditions and possible water restrictions a pressing problem for farms, orchards, greenhouses, and any growing operation.

While we can't control the climate, we can optimize how we use our available water. For agriculturists, irrigation automation is the optimal solution for water conservation and utilization. Even better, smart automation will save you time and money too. EECOL stands by to help with drought preparation.

The Future of Irrigation

Gone are the days of rigorous, manual management of your irrigation system.

Technological advancements in the agricultural industry have paved the way for sophisticated, automated irrigation systems that ensure efficient energy and water use, resulting in cost savings, and improved crop quality. EECOL supplies Canada with all the necessary automation and utility products to optimize your hydration process.

You’ll also experience significant energy savings from the efficient use of your equipment and a reduction in repair costs with predictive maintenance capabilities.

Irrigation solutions can be customized to fit your needs, regardless of your operation's size or type.

Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)

The ATV630 VFDs from Schneider Electric are specifically designed for pumping applications used in irrigation.
These VFDs enable you to use your pumps methodically, changing speeds and even shutting down as water requirements fluctuate. Automatic detection reduces wear and tear, preventing damage and downtime caused by dry or cavitating pumps.

When conditions deviate from the programmed parameters, the drive will notify you of the issue, helping to troubleshoot potential problems. If a drive malfunction occurs, the drive will display a QR code linking directly to the specific fault and potential solutions.

Key features include:
● 1HP- 800HP
● Ethernet and Traditional Modbus capable– out of the box
● Easily programmable with built-in pumping curves and torque controls for optimal performance and efficiency
● 255 programs can be stored, named, and backed up in the HMI
● Full power monitoring and communication capabilities with SCADA systems
● Quick connect input/output terminal blocks for ease of service with minimal rewiring
● Communicate with existing platforms– all major communication protocols are supported

Remote Terminal Units (RTUs)

When building your irrigation system, you will have several options for how you would like to communicate information between your field devices and a centralized operational facility. Factors like distance, terrain, cellular availability, and existing infrastructure are important to consider when assessing your location’s specific needs.

RTUs are electronic devices that pass data from various irrigation hardware (sensors, actuators, valves, etc.) to your distributed control system (DCS) or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

The Phoenix Contact Radioline offers two-way communication between your irrigation system and your SCADA or cloud-based monitoring system. It not only retrieves information from your irrigation system but also uses that data to in turn
operate your equipment remotely.

Because of its ability to use this data to tweak and optimize your system automatically, you will gain time previously spent manually intervening and managing your SCADA environment.

Key features include:
● Simple I/O mapping
● Trusted Wireless 2.0 technology
● AES encryption
● Frequency hopping
● Coexistence management
● Ranges up to 32 km
● Up to 32 I/O modules
● Easy startup of wireless systems

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)

SCADA systems are essential for modern irrigation management. They provide full operational control, allowing flexibility and scalability– making it suitable for any agricultural operation regardless of size. From a single pump to an extensive network of devices, these systems can do most of the thinking, offering real-time data integration, including weather information for automatic irrigation adjustments and long-term data storage for trend analysis. For instance, if rain is forecasted, SCADA can reduce or halt irrigation, conserving water and saving on electricity costs.

SCADA systems record and store information on energy and water usage, which can be used for regulatory compliance, cost allocation, and maintenance planning. By analyzing these trends, you can make informed decisions to enhance efficiency and sustainability.

Deployment options include on-premise or cloud-based solutions which you may purchase outright or via subscription. This flexibility ensures you can choose the setup that best fits your financial plans.

SCADA systems are accessible across various devices, from server-level computers to laptops, tablets, and smartphones, keeping you connected to your irrigation system anytime, anywhere.
Incorporating a SCADA system into your irrigation setup is a smart investment. It provides comprehensive control, integrates real-time data for efficient operation, and supports long-term planning through detailed data analysis.

SCADA helps save resources, reduce costs, and enhance the overall efficiency of your irrigation system.

Instrumentation and Utilities

What good are these devices without the infrastructure to connect them?

We supply nearly everything you need to power, direct, and integrate these smart irrigation systems.

Find essential instrumentation, such as pressure measurement, to help accurately and efficiently control water delivery and maintain pressure.

If you use wells, we offer well-level measurements with hydrostatic pressure transmitters to determine well depth and draw-down/recovery. This indicates the available groundwater resource.

While these are just a few examples of what we offer, we provide a complete range of solutions from line to load.

Get Your System Started

A Safe Investment

Investing in automation insulates your operation from drought by maximizing water efficiency while also saving you time and money.

Labor Reduction: Automation reduces the need for manual labor to maintain crops.

Energy Efficiency: Pumps using VFDs can run at optimum speeds, minimizing energy consumption.

Water Conservation: Automated systems use water more efficiently, reducing overall consumption.

Improved Crop Quality: Reduced water stress on crops by predicting water needs based on local weather patterns.

Reduced Maintenance Costs: Condition-based monitoring to detect issues like cavitation or low well levels, preventing costly repairs and unnecessary downtime.

Financial Savings: Deferred expenditures for water source expansion or new development are possible, along with environmental benefits like maintaining natural water systems.

Moving towards automation can be intimidating, but we are here to guide you and ensure you maximize your investment.

Pro Tip: Check with your local government for incentives to upgrade your systems– they could save you a significant amount of money.

EECOL's expert staff are available for product selection, installation advice, technical support, and training.

We can also direct you to preconfigured systems or turnkey providers if you prefer a complete solution.

Handle as much or as little of the integration and installation as you prefer– we have partners ready to assist you at every step.

From DIYers to commercial agriculturists– ongoing support, ease of use, and quality products come standard at EECOL.

Contact us today to learn more about how our smart irrigation solutions can help you conserve water, reduce costs, and improve the quality of your agricultural products.

Let us help you prepare for the drought ahead while there is still time.

Together, we can make this a successful year.

Talk to a Specialist