Azcal Management Inc
Large Corporate grower to switch from PureSense stations to Ranch Systems to expand functionality
Location: Lemoore, California
Crop Grown: 11,000 acres of mixed crops including: pistachios, wine grapes, tomatoes, onion, and cotton
Solutions: Valve control, VFD Pump Control, Flow monitoring, Soil Moisture tracking, weather and climate, remote cameras
“I wanted more functionality than PureSense could offer, specifically monitoring flow and controlling irrigation. I am very impressed with the hardware and functionality of Ranch Systems.”
Zach Sheely, Partner
Zach Sheely grew up in the AZCAL farming operation, but his talent as world-class opera singer had him travelling on a regular basis. While away he wanted to have contact with the farm and be involved in management decisions. This led to the introduction of remote monitoring technology into AZCAL farming operations. Zach’s role evolved to Manager of Research and Technology. Consequently, AZCAL is continually incorporating new technology into the business to increase their economic and environmental sustainability.
PureSense Irrigation Manager provided a viable means to monitor soil moisture and develop irrigation strategies. However, its limitations quickly became apparent. For example, the PureSense system could not be used monitor the volume of water being applied to the crops. With water becoming a scarcer, the ability to continually and remotely read flow meters became a requirement. Another limitation was the lack of control capability; the PureSense hardware and software could not open or close valves or create an irrigation program and execute a schedule. The need for irrigation automation was driven to a great extent by the desire to implement pulse irrigation, which was too costly and impractical to do manually. What became apparent to Zach from implementing soil moisture monitoring was that the farm operation needed a system that could be coupled with water monitoring and irrigation automation. AZCAL required an integrated approach to field monitoring and control, a single hardware and software platform that could perform all the functions required. The challenge was to able to find a system that worked. In 2012, a pilot project using technology from an Australian company was abandoned.
RanchMaster Wireless Solution
Zach converted his PureSense stations over to RanchMaster in a single day. Ranch Systems had engineered a method to replace Irrigation Manager without having to replace any soil moisture sensors and masts, only the temperature and humidity sensors on the weather station(s), preserving much of AZCAL’s investment. Because RanchMaster utilizes a mesh network, fewer cellular gateways needed, minimizing the expenditure for new wireless hardware. In addition, the on-line subscription costs were significantly lower. The system was expanded to include monitoring flow meters and controlling VFD pumps at pump stations as well as deploying units to control valves in the various blocks of 300+ acres of pistachios. AZCAL also took advantage of RanchMaster’s camera capability for remotely viewing pump stations.
The year of the install, we saw a record yield and lower water consumption by combining pulse irrigation with an schedule driven by keeping soil moisture within an optimal band. The revenue gains and water savings more than paid for the system in a single season.