It’s now even easier for local farmers to order water and plan their irrigation thanks to Turlock Irrigation District’s new Online Water Tools — a 21st century approach to one of the area’s longest-standing practices.
Development for the new online program began last December, and the new tools for farmers were rolled out in March. While TID has offered online water ordering to customers for a few years now, External Affairs Department Manager Josh Weimer said the organization wanted to improve the process and make it more mobile friendly, as well as provide other useful features to farmers.
“We came at it this offseason with that in mind: How can we enhance this offering to our customers not just to order water — although that’s the main function — but really to provide additional tools,” Weimer said.
In addition to requesting water easily from a desktop, tablet or mobile device, there are a variety of new online offerings for farmers to explore and utilize when it comes to their irrigation water, like viewing the water they’ve used so far and the water that’s available. Users can also group parcels of land together to make reporting and viewing them as one easier, and are able to produce summary reports with the click of a button.
The tool farmers have enjoyed the most so far, said Weimer, is the forecasting tool, which helps users plan irrigations for the entire season — something especially helpful in dry years like this one.
“They can go in there and say, ‘Okay, this is how big my parcel is and this is how much water is available this year.’ Then, they can forecast out how they want to irrigate at what times of the year,” Weimer said. “They can also run different scenarios to know how much water they'll have or when they might run out of water, and then they can make changes to that. We’re really excited about that.”
Feedback from farmers has been great, Weimer said, and TID will use that information to improve upon the new technology for next irrigation season.
An April report showed that of the 550 users active on the previous system, 240 had logged into the new Online Water Tools system. Over 100 users had multiple interactions with features of the system, with over 50 completing online water orders and 90 users doing so from smart phones.
As the state and county suffer from drought, Weimer said providing more technology and information to farmers can only help in terms of water management.
“We have over 50 different crops here, so everyone has a different water need and everyone has different soil needs because each soil responds to water differently,” Weimer said. “It’s really unique to each grower... We want to provide our growers with as much information as possible, and then they can make the decisions because they're the experts. We’re the experts at getting water to them and they are the experts at growing all the product.”
For more information about TID’s Online Water Tools, visit www.tid.org/irrigation