2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this cooperative research project is to develop technology and methodology for efficient use of water in agricultural systems suited to dry land climates by applying Irrigation Management Information System (IMIS) techniques.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Under this agreement, and in accordance with the budget agreed to by both Parties to this Agreement, the Cooperators shall:
1. As appropriate, conduct research under the Irrigation Management Information System (IMIS) project, which is part of a cooperative research project bringing together participants from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and the United States to Improve water management by providing data for scheduling irrigation and other crop management decisions to increase irrigation efficiency in the Middle East and The United States.
2. Establish an IMIS research and extension sites to represent the important agricultural production systems in Jordan. Evapotranspiration (ET) models for several conventional and specialized crops will be evaluated for the designated sites and prioritized according to applicability criteria. Soil and plant water-status measurement instrumentation will be evaluated, adapted and integrated into the system according to the same applicability criteria.
3. Conduct collaborative regional research on measurement of crop water use and calculation of crop coefficients for key crops, such as cucumbers, peppers, and specialty crops.
4. Establish interaction with local universities, farmers, farm advisors, and extension personnel in order to implement the IMIS system to ensure wide acceptance and sustainability.
5. Establish the methodological framework to transfer the crop water requirements information received from the metrological stations to the farmers.
6. Assist in providing training to the Jordanian farmers in conservation technology such as cover crops and composting methods.
During this reporting period several research activities and scientific exchanges were carried out. The IMIS project coordinator from NCARE, Jordan, visited ARS collaborators in October 2012; during this visit he presented his research at the ARS lab and carried out discussions on an irrigation management information system approach developed by NCARE researchers with the help of USDA-ARS. The system is capable of providing farmers with online crop water requirements based on automated meteorological data published on the internet (www.ncare.gov.jo/imis, and www.merimis.org). Since 2003, this Middle Eastern Regional Irrigation Management Information Systems (MERIMIS) project has focused on improving irrigation scheduling in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel with regional and U.S. cooperators.
These efforts have established a network of 15 weather stations to support an irrigation scheduling service using the paradigm that crop water use (ETc) is equal to a reference evapotranspiration (ETr) value (calculated from weather data) multiplied by a crop coefficient (Kc) obtained from FAO paper (number 56). A weighing lysimeter was constructed in the Jordan Valley in order to determine ETc and update Kc values for the specific and unusual climate there; and an eddy covariance station was also used to this end. So far, ETc data have been measured for sweet corn, onion and tomato. Since 30% of the cultivated area in the Jordan Valley is occupied by plastic houses, separate studies of crop water use in plastic houses were instituted, showing that water use was greatly reduced while crop yield and quality improved. The ETc system is similar to several in use in other networks, such as the California Irrigation Management Information System (www.cimis.org), which provide crop water requirement values based on climatic data and ETr estimation methods such as the Penman Montieth equation. The online network can provide farmers with accurate irrigation water requirements, and consequently can save up to 20% of the normally applied irrigation water, with better water management. The system is also modified to provide the farmers with on farm crop water requirements using SMS mobile service text messages.