The only company to provide actual evapotranspiration rates for crops has teamed up with another California startup to assist growers. Tule Technologies and HotSpot Ag give growers the hardware and software tools they can use to simplify irrigation schedules and meet crop demands with reduced irrigation supplies.
The goals, according to Tule Technologies, is to offer a turnkey solution to improve irrigation efficiencies by helping to save energy and water while working to improve crop yields.
"Actual evapotranspiration is the critical piece of information for surviving a drought," said Tule CEO Tom Shapland.
Shapland developed the technology while earning his Ph.D. at UC Davis. Instead of crop coefficients and mathematical equations that estimate ET rates from fixed weather reporting stations, the patented technology provides actual ET rates, which can differ among the same crop across different microclimates and soil types.
"Actual ET is the amount of water a crop field uses," Shapland continues. "When growers know how much water their fields use, they know exactly how much water they need to replace to that field."
Tule Technologies provides the sensors that give growers their actual ET rates. HotSpot Ag allows growers to easily execute irrigation schedules on those insights. HotSpot users can schedule a recommended irrigation and monitor pump health, water flow, and pressures in real-time via their computer, smart phone, or tablet.
"Our technologies are complimentary," said James Nichols, owner of HotSpot Ag.
Nichols said that one of the problems with irrigation scheduling can be seen in measuring increments. Some growers water in inches, others in acre feet, and others in hours of run time, he said. The intent with the HotSpot Ag system is to make this useful to growers thinking in run times who might be told by their agronomist to apply two inches of water this week.
According to Tule Spokesperson Kendall Barton, both technologies were eligible for state funding through the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This program awarded $43 million in 2022 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save water in agricultural operations.
Tule Technologies was developed in 2014 at UC Davis. Their information is available online at https://tule.ag/.
HotSpot Ag was developed by Nichols on a fourth-generation farming operation. Visit https://hotspotag.com/ for more information.