Alfalfa is a crop belonging to the legume family, being a perennial plant and in need of irrigation , lively and of straight bearing.
As a result of the demand for intensive livestock farming, it has become an indispensable element in the feed industry due to its high protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral content.
Alfalfa production in Spain
Spain is the third country in the European Union after France and Italy in cultivation of alfalfa, with a total of 330,000 ha of which more than 70% are irrigated in areas such as:
- Castile and Leon
- Castilla La Mancha
Sensors and probes in pivot irrigation in alfalfa
On this occasion we carried out the installation of sensors in a farm located between the towns of Cebolla and Malpica de Tajo (Toledo), with sensors measuring 40 centimeters deep in 4 strategic points of the farm (although the alfalfa root can reach up to 2 meters with use up to 1 meter).
Tagus River and its tributaries, the scarcity of this resource does not prevail in this area, but there is the need to optimize irrigation to reduce electricity costs as well as to know the water needs of this crop .
This last point takes on special relevance since the evolution of the graphs allowed an adjustment of the irrigation system. This adjustment translates into a decrease in the amount of water to be applied and the frequency of irrigation during the crop cycle was reduced. All of this implied a reduction in the generalized use of the pivot, thus saving electricity consumption in the operation.
Advantages of watering with Pivot in Alfalfa
Pivot irrigation in alfalfa is one of the best decisions, as long as we have plenty of water and the farm does not have slopes that hinder the movement of the pivot.
The water falls in the form of rain and the humidity reaches the entire crop.
In this area of Toledo the water is guaranteed from the Tagus.
Moisture control is essential because if pivot irrigation in alfalfa is excessive and it reaches a specific wilting point, flowering begins, making it unrecoverable for production in that growth cycle.
Another essential data to control is the salinity that can impair absorption. We can measure it with conductivity sensors in real time.
With these two factors, the production will be of high quality and the land does not suffer from accumulated salinity.