As it happens with the use of all the new technologies until they are controlled and knows in depth, there are advances and setbacks, successful cases and also unexpected errors to be corrected, as to better understand the operation of a product like Qampo and the work process of the team behind, we will describe next the project in the town of Peñafiel in Valladolid, with a historical background of walnut trees.
The walnut is a native crop of Persia, it is a tree of great economic importance, as much for the production of the fruits as for the wood, currently being one of the most profitable fruit species. In recent years, there has been an improvement in the competitiveness of walnut cultivation, which has been reflected in the increase in cultivated area. It is a vigorous tree that can reach up to 27 m in height and whose trunk can reach 3 to 4 m in diameter. Its crown is broad, stretched, spherically compressed. Its right trunk, covered with a cinder and thick crust, in the young branches, smooth and dark red and in the old cracked and brown.
From the point of view of soil monitoring, it is important to know the root system very well, which is highly developed. It consists of a pivotal main root and a secondary system of shallow and strong roots. Significantly extended roots, both horizontally and vertically.
The edaphoclimatic requirements of the walnuts for a correct development are:
Walnut is very sensitive to frost (<1ºC) in Spring and Autumn. The first cause great losses in the harvest while the early frost in Autumn causes poor growth in the first years of development of the plant before reaching adulthood. At the other extreme, the temperature should not exceed 38ºC when the humidity is low, as the nuts can suffer burns. If this happens at the beginning of the season, the nuts will be empty, but if it is later the seeds may wrinkle, darken or stick to the inside of the shell.
Despite being cultivated in dry land and dry nature, it is very sensitive to drought. For its cultivation to be possible it needs minimum rainfall of 700 mm, being of 1,000-1,200 mm the most suitable range for intensive farms. For this reason, it is usual to install an irrigation system in the plot to supplement the rains when they are scarce or irregular, and thus to obtain a good production of walnut.
It is a tree that adapts very well to very different soils although it prefers deep soils, permeable, loose and of good fertility.
Climatology of the zone
Peñafiel is a town in the central area of Castilla y León in the district of Valladolid. The historical weather data is:
With this information we can observe that the rainfall does not reach the minimum of 700 mm, so it is compulsory to use an irrigation system. Another data to take into account is the frosts in the months of May and October that can endanger crop yields. The plantation frame of the orchard is 5 x 5 (400 plants / ha). The plot has a drip irrigation system which has the purpose of minimizing water consumption and achieving the best possible yields.
Regarding the soils, in the image below we can see the general characteristics of the área. The crop is planted in a sandy clay loam, with deep soil. The soil has good conditions of organic matter (1.2-1.8%) and clay. It should be pointed out that according to soil characteristics different types of patterns are used, notably J. nigra for acid soils and J. regia for the most limestones.
After a first study of the plantation frame, the soil type, the irrigation system and the climatology of the area, it was decided to install a Qampo Suelo+ station which has the following characteristics:
- Ongoing monitoring of ambient temperature and humidity
- Irrigation monitoring: Time of beginning and end of irrigation and endowment of irrigation
- Humidity and soil temperature monitoring at 6 depths using Sentek Drill and drop sensor
- GPRS wireless communications
- Qbic Datalogger 4C-GPRS
- Access to the Qampo display platform
The installation of the Qampo Suelo+ station is made easy thanks to its installation kit. The Qbic 4C-GPRS datalogger features an integrated solar panel, so no power cables are required for installation. On the other hand, it has external IP67 connectors for the connection of the sensors in a simple way. The pluviometer and the temperature sensor are anchored on the pole where the Qbic is also set, all this is done by means of supports and anchors that are part of this kit. For the irrigation monitoring, a volumetric water meter of 15 mm (DN15) diameter is installed perfectly, making use of some adapters for 16 mm pipe. The sensor chosen for the measurement of humidity and temperature in soil is the Australian manufacturer Sentek, specifically using a pipe sensor Drill and Drop family of 60 cm, which has 6 sensors for the measurement of soil temperature and the volumetric water content of the soil. One of the great advantages of this type of sensors is its simple installation, which uses a drill with battery, a drill of 60 cm, and a tool of Sentek to perform the drill perpendicular and easy. Once the hole is made, we simply insert the tube sensor and connect it to the Qbic datalogger. The complete installation of the station takes about 45 minutes. Once completed, we turn on the Qbic datalogger automatically start sending the data to the platform, by means of which we can configure the measurement time of the data coming from the sensors.
****PICTURES OF THE INSTALLATION PROCESS AND INSTALLED STATION****
Once the station is installed, we connect it to the Qampo web platform to add the data of the frame of the plantation, the irrigation system, and data on the crop, in this case Walnut. In this way, we can obtain an initial recommendation of irrigation based on the calculation of ETo (Evapotranspiration), also based on the climatological data of the area and the state of development of the crop. This first recommendation of irrigation is compared with the farmer’s irrigation data to improve decision making. Once the irrigation routine is applied through the Qampo platform, it is possible to monitor the data of the soil moisture sensors in real-time, and thus to adjust the irrigation dynamics to the exact needs of the crop. As we have already mentioned, the station incorporates a rain gauge through which we can know exactly the amount of rainfall that has occurred over the time, being registered in the web platform, in order to adjust the need for irrigation to the local weather. The sensor of temperature and humidity enables us to know the hours of cold and heat in the crop, which enables us to make decisions in advance, and also to maintain a record of the climate during the development of the crop.
Benefits of the Qampo solution:
The Qampo Suelo+ station offers important advantages and amenities to the farmer:
- Knowing when and how much to water specifically, taking into account the weather conditions, and the time of development of the crop. All of this will be extremely easy for the farmer.
- Having a record of irrigations and rains throughout the campaign. To know exactly how many cubic meters per hectare have been watered in the campaign and how they have been distributed over the months, weeks or days. To know how much it has rained every month, every week or every day. All of this will be automatically and consultable at any time by the farmer.
- Knowing the exact weather conditions of the plot and to be able to analyze them in a historical way. To extract data, such as the hours of cold and heat to be able to make decisions in advance, or improvements in the next planting.
- Having all the information accessible in a practical and simple way.