In previous posts we have explored the benefits of working with big data in both hydrologic and hydraulic services and we have given some examples of data mining based on information that in most cases is already stored into databases, with the aim of enhancing operation and planning activities in an irrigation district.

But how about giving even more added value to this data?

The primary obligation of an irrigation district is to meet the demands of its customers and keep them satisfied by providing a good and reliable service that helps them maximize their profits while making a more sustainable use of water resources. Being able to develop tools using hydrological and hydraulic data to strengthen the quality of service creates a win-win situation where producers could use this new processed data and analyses to improve yields while irrigation districts could increase their revenues by means of optimized water deliveries and pricing.

Here are 5 examples on how using data can improve services provided to the customer:

1. ACCESS TO DATA

There is no doubt that irrigators are always concerned about meteorological events and forecasts. Although national and regional meteorology agencies provide accurate data for agricultural purposes, it is very common that irrigation districts have privately owned meteorological stations that can contribute with the much needed information about local conditions. Being able to provide tools to access this data, for instance, providing deviating patterns between local and regional observations or comparing meteorological data from different growing seasons are good examples of services that could easily be given to increase customer satisfaction.

2. EVAPOTRANSPIRATION AND CROP PERFORMANCE

Not only meteorological data is important to irrigators. Evapotranspiration rates and crop development are also key indicators to measure expected yield quality and quantity, as well as to unravel the needs of crop water demands. A few examples of the benefits of this type of information are treating this data geospatially to provide customer-oriented information (i.e. farmers can obtain this data specifically for their fields), being able to analyse their crop performance vs previous seasons, comparing field data to the average of fields with the same crop in the same district or to compare this data with bibliographic studies to reach optimum values.

3. WATER BALANCES

Based on the point above, irrigators could improve their water consumption strategies by better estimating their delivery needs in time and quantity. Consequently, irrigation districts can anticipate their local demands and increase their level of service by reducing delivery uncertainties.

4. DEFINING MAXIMUM CAPACITIES

One of the benefits of working with big data in hydraulic services was the extension of water level coverage along the scheme. Results of real-time water level estimation and forecasts can be shared with irrigators so that an optimization in the operation of delivery gates is achieved.

5. TRADING OF WATER ENTITLEMENTS

The trade of water rights is a common practice between irrigators who transfer their water entitlements between owned properties or partially sell them to other irrigators in the district. Those transactions might bring the channels to an overcapacity at peak times if the transfer is not assessed properly.  Data algorithms of water trade operations can be done to instantly detect if a water trade compromises the level of service.

This list of customer-oriented services is just a small sample of all the benefits and synergies that can be achieved by working with the right data and analysis tools. It is almost impossible for a local irrigator to record, analyse and use all the data either because it is difficult to access the information or because it is too expensive to use it. Being able to provide all these services at a larger scale becomes something much more affordable and contributes to a common gain within district members.