Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 20, 2009
Publication Date: December 4, 2009
Citation: Mahan, J.R., Young, A. 2009. Directed manipulation of crop water status through canopy temperature-based irrigation management. Meeting Proceedings. Interpretive Summary: Declining water resources and increased water costs are resulting in a increasing need for improved irrigation management. Traditional irrigation management approaches, while successful in many respects, may not be full suitable for the agriculture of the future where reduced water usage in agriculture may be the norm. Irrigation management based on measurement of weather and/or soil moisture has been effective but will probably be improved if used with direct measurements of the plant’s need for water. The development of low cost and easy to use wireless infrared thermometry systems provides a means for agricultural producers to base irrigation decisions on measurements of the plant in addition to predictions of the plant water state based on the environment. It is proposed that continuous canopy temperature measurements will provide insight into the effectiveness of irrigation management under conditions of less than optimal irrigation.
Technical Abstract: While the relationship between canopy temperature and plant water status is well established, canopy temperature as a means of controlling crop irrigation has been limited in production applications due to the cost and complexity of temperature monitoring. A new low-cost infrared thermometry system, coupled with the BIOTIC irrigation protocol of the USDA/ARS allows for a biologically-based, simple, reliable and affordable approach to crop irrigation that is well suited to production agriculture. Beyond meeting the crop’s water “needs”, this system has shown promise for an ability to actively manipulate the water status of the crop to achieve desirable outcomes (e.g. product quality and water savings) that results in water-management derived improvements in the profitability of agricultural systems. Results from field level studies of full irrigation and managed deficits will be presented.