Drawing from their own experiences, a couple of Atwater, Calif., growers have introduced the Ag Flag to help irrigators determine when to shut off water in flood- or furrow-irrigated fields.
"Normally, the only way to tell where the water is is to actually walk out into the field," says Mike Hansen, the inventor.
But that can take time away from the irrigator when he could be doing something else.
"It's a huge labor savings," Hansen says of the flag.
Apply too much water to the point it runs out the end of the field, and you could be cited for an illegal discharge.
Apply too little water, and you're short-changing the crop.
Hansen demonstrated the low-cost water-management tool at the World Ag Expo, Feb. 12-14, in Tulare, Calif.
The Ag Flag involves a simple patent-pending design.
A bright orange flag has been attached to the top of a bendable pole.
Atop the pole is a length of wire.
Users plant the flag pole in the field where they want the water to reach to be notified to shut it off.
They bend down the pole, attach the end of the wire to a special paper strip, then attach the paper strip to a nail.
Users finish by pressing the nail into the soil.
When the water reaches the nail and paper, it saturates the paper. The tension from the bent pole rips the paper, releasing the flag so it stands upright and is visible.
A reflective strip at the top makes it visible in headlights at night, too, Hansen says.
Agricultural chemical dealers or other commercial operations also can have their logos and names imprinted on the flags to promote their services, he says.