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BayWa launches satellite-assisted ‘rainmaker’

BayWa is starting the world-wide launch of its satellite-assisted “VariableRain” irrigation solution.

The satellite-assisted “VariableRain” irrigation solution has succesfully concluded a 2-year pilot in Zambia, Africa. Now BayWa is ready for the world-wide launch.

Water requirements calculated

On the basis of satellite and weather data in combination with Vista GmbH’s Promet plant growth model, the water requirements for agricultural crops are calculated automatically. With this, farmers can prevent possible losses due to lasting drought or overwatering. This saves water and energy. It also prevents waterlogging and nutrient leaching. This improves soil life and protects the environment.

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Natural water reservoir used by the Mubuyu Farms. - Photo: BayWa
Natural water reservoir used by the Mubuyu Farms. - Photo: BayWa

Large yields with limited resources

“The exceptionally hot, dry summer in Europe has shown us the effect climate change-related extreme weather events can have on the local provision of basic foodstuffs,” said Klaus Josef Lutz, CEO of BayWa AG. “At the same time, our pilot project in Africa has shown that farmers can achieve large yields of wheat even with limited resources if they utilise satellite data.”

25 percent more wheat

Farmers in Zambia can only grow wheat in the dry season with constant irrigation. The water comes from natural reservoirs that fill during the rainy season. Due to the excessive dry spells in past years, the water supplies in Zambia have diminished. In 2018, one third less water was available to the pilot farm than in the year before. The farm was still able to harvest up to 25 percent more wheat with the aid of targeted irrigation. At the same time, less water and energy was used for this irrigation technology. The savings on water in the pilot phase were between 11 and 30 percent.

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Farmers in Zambia can only grow wheat in the dry season with constant irrigation. - Photo: BayWa
Farmers in Zambia can only grow wheat in the dry season with constant irrigation. - Photo: BayWa

Agriculture is leading water consumer

BayWa is now expanding its approach to satellite-based irrigation tested in Zambia to other regions in Africa, North America and Europe. At 70 percent usage, agriculture counts as the leading water consumer world-wide. This is expected to rise to up to 89 percent by the year 2050. Irrigation is the most important factor.

Also read: Profiting from precision irrigation

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