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Small Farms Can Save Water & Money With Precision Irrigation

Submitted By: Lewis Perdue, January 21, 2014
19 Jan 2014

By Frank Stempski,
Western Ag and Turf

The Ty Bellach farm in Madera County California recently installed new automation technology to enable precision irrigation monitoring and control of his vineyards. Ty Bellach grows grapes for raisin production on 25 acres.

He recently installed an AquaMon™ integrated monitoring and control system from Cermetek Microelectronics to aid in controlling water consumption.

Water usage affects the “bud break” and AquaMon helps Ty Bellach Farm “set levels of saturation that are best for ideal stress levels on the plants” says Ty Bellach.

He indicated he is already saving water by not over irrigating. Before the AquaMon system was installed he would leave the water flowing an entire weekend without knowing how saturated the ground had become.

Now he can precisely monitor moisture levels on the Cermetek RSVP web site from anywhere at any time.

Ty estimated that he is using half the water he previously used. He also expects to see a significant savings in his electric power bills from the reduction in pumping.

Ty also cites the cost savings he achieved by participating in the USDA’s NRCS “EQIP” program. The NRCS program will reimburse Ty Bellack Farm over 30% of the cost of the AquaMon Systems.

These savings are consistent with the guidelines of the National Resources Conservation Service given out under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The NRCS office in Madera attests to a number of farmers in the Madera area who are taking advantage of the EQIP program.

The AquaMon system was installed at Ty Bellach Farms by local technician James Rosel of Western Ag and Turf Inc which supplies and installs irrigation systems for growers throughout the Central Valley of California. Most growers prefer the convenience of local installers for automation systems such as AquaMon for the long term support and local customer service these installers like Western Ag and Turf provide.

The AquaMon system installed at Ty Bellach Farm reports soil moisture data on a 24/7 basis to a personal, secure internet account that Ty Bellach can access any time (just like accessing his bank account) using his smart phone or other computing device equipped with a web browser. Ty emphasizes the convenience and time savings AquaMon provides by eliminating the need to travel to the fields to discern their status. Ty can retrieve his data from the cloud without the need to download any special app or program onto his smartphone or computer.

Recent years have seen the growing use of cloud based automation by large farms at great expense. The case of the Ty Bellach Farm shows that a relatively small acreage farm can effectively utilize this technology and is evidence that new lower cost and easy to use systems such as AquaMon by Cermetek can assist small and medium sized farms in reducing costs and improving yields.


Frank Stempski,, 12 Jan 2014, 408 482 2822
James Rosel, 559 673 9269