New Tools Aid Arid-Land Water Management
McGinnis January 5, 2009
New tools developed by Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) scientists are improving water management in arid
In areas where water is scarce, land managers irrigate with water that
travels via intricate canal systems. At the ARS
Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Ariz., director
Clemmens and his colleagues are developing computer software to
automatically control canal gates.
The software, called Software for Automated Canal Management, or
SacMan, senses water level changes within the canals and responds accordingly,
moving the gates to increase or reduce the water flow. This technology could
improve efficiency and give land managers greater control and flexibility. The
researchers have also developed training software for canal operators.
In related work, Clemmens and his colleagues have also updated a
software program called WinSRFR, which simulates, designs and evaluates surface
available and has users throughout the United States and in 14 countries
around the world.
One user is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources
Conservation Service, which evaluates proposed conservation practices with
the program in order to install more efficient surface irrigation systems.
WinSRFR has various modules that enable users to simulate the results
of various management strategies. One module evaluates irrigation events.
Another shows how different design options affect a field's irrigation
efficiency. A third shows the effects of various operational choices.
Although each module operates separately, information can be
transferred between them. Together, they can help land managers make decisions
about how to arrange and water their fields.
about the research in the January 2009 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is a scientific research agency of USDA.