ECOLOGICALLY-SOUND PEST, WATER AND SOIL MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS CROPPING SYSTEMS
Location: Agricultural Systems Research Unit
Title: Enhancing adoption of site-specific variable rate sprinkler systems
Submitted to: Irrigation Association Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 20, 2011
Publication Date: November 6, 2011
Citation: Evans, R.G., Larue, J., Stone, K.C., King, B.A. 2011. Enhancing adoption of site-specific variable rate sprinkler systems. In: Irrigation Association Conference Proceedings. Innovations in Irrigation Conference, November 6-8, 2011, San Diego, California. 2011 CD-ROM.
More than twenty years of private and public research on site-specific variable-rate sprinkler irrigation (SS-VRI) has resulted in very limited commercial adoption of the technology. Documented and proven water conservation strategies using site-specific irrigation are quite limited, and its cost-effectiveness has not been demonstrated. SS-VRI is primarily being used for eliminating irrigation and chemigation on non-cropped areas of a field, however, adoption of SS-VRI technologies for general crop production will require much greater integration of irrigation system hardware, sensor systems, and decision support software, which will be challenging as significant knowledge gaps exist. Recent advances in sensor and wireless radio frequency technologies have enabled development of distributed in-field sensor-based management systems to support site-specific sprinkler irrigation. Thus, integration of a decision making process with distributed wireless sensor networks and providing real time input to site-specific, adaptive control is a viable option. The ultimate challenge will be to develop fully integrated management systems with supporting elements that accurately and inexpensively sense within-field variability and then optimally control site-specific, variable rate water application systems in ways that account for the spatial and temporal variability affecting crop water use. This paper discusses short-term and some long-term research needs to focus on developing and documenting cost-effective site-specific water conservation strategies in order to develop markets for these advanced and needed irrigation technologies for crop production.