Irrigation control improvements for Spanish farmers
The chronic need to control water use in Spain is reflected in realities like the thousand years old “Water Court of the Valencia Vega” to settle disputes between farmers or the influence of Spanish customs regarding community acequias in the US Southwest.
Acequia, that may be translated as canal or ditch, is a word from Arab origin. The Moorish invaders who once ruled Spain brought with them a clever irrigation system that revealed their utmost respect for the scarce resource of freshwater and that is still in use. Spain remains to this day one of Europe’s horticultural powerhouses.
Forbes reports how, after years of chronic drought coupled with vastly increased water use, not to mention worrying climatic change, farm groups have realized it’s high time for change.
Spain’s federation of irrigators, known as Fenacore, is promoting an initiative to computerize Spain’s irrigation system by 2010, connecting some 500,000 farmers to an irrigation network headquartered outside Madrid (code name Corenet). Corenet will also have additional advantages for the farmers, as it will also function as a a b2b marketplace and a plaza for information exchange.
The scheme should allow valuable water to be monitored and controlled by computer, drop by precious drop.
“We’re jumping from the 13th century to the 21st century,” said Juan Valero, Fenacore’s secretary general.
While computer-assisted irrigation is not new, Fenacore believes no other country is organizing it at a national level. So far 200,000 farmers have signed up for the project, Valero said.
“The only way to manage water is to measure how much enters each channel, and computer technology is the best way to do this,” he said.
Farmers are being encouraged to move toward drip and aspersion irrigation. They are also asked to lay highly efficient telecommunications cables alongside main water conduits so that the irrigation grid can be monitored from a national computer center.
Fenacore estimates computerized irrigation will mean up to 20 percent water savings.
These are very good news for the local manufacturers of irrigation equipment and technology. This sector has been growing steadily in the last decades and Spain now ranks among the world´s major producers of irrigation equipment along the US and Israel.