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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Water Management Technologies for Humid Regions

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Title: Soil moisture and plant canopy temperature sensing for irrigation application in cotton

Authors
item SUI, RUIXIU
item FISHER, DANIEL
item Barnes, Edward -

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 2, 2012
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Citation: Sui, R., Fisher, D.K., Barnes, E.M. 2012. Soil moisture and plant canopy temperature sensing for irrigation application in cotton. Journal of Agricultural Science. 4(12):93-105.

Interpretive Summary: Crop producers have become increasingly reliant on supplemental irrigation to ensure adequate yields and reduce risks of production. There is a need to provide technical tools to producers for appropriate management of irrigation. A wireless sensor network was deployed in a cotton field to monitor soil water status for irrigation. The network included two systems, a Decagon system and a microcontroller-based system. The Decagon system consists of soil volumetric water-content sensors, wireless data loggers, and a central data station. Sensor data collected by each data logger were wirelessly transferred to and stored in the data station. The microcontroller-based system was designed to be a low-cost data logger for monitoring Watermark water-potential sensors. An infrared thermometer was used in the field to measure plant canopy temperature for evaluating its usefulness in detecting water stress in cotton under humid conditions. Soil water and plant canopy temperature data were collected during the 2011 cotton growing season. Results indicated that the soil water sensors were able to measure the soil water status, and the measurements recorded by the systems reflected general trends of soil water change during the growing season. Canopy temperature of non-irrigated plant is higher than that of the irrigated plant during the peak time of day. System installation and maintenance procedures developed worked well in general. Irrigated plots increased cotton yield by 12% compared with the non-irrigated.

Technical Abstract: A wireless sensor network was deployed in a cotton field to monitor soil water status for irrigation. The network included two systems, a Decagon system and a microcontroller-based system. The Decagon system consists of soil volumetric water-content sensors, wireless data loggers, and a central data station. Sensor data collected by each data logger were wirelessly transferred to and stored in the data station. The microcontroller-based system was designed to be a low-cost data logger for monitoring Watermark water-potential sensors. An infrared thermometer was used in the field to measure plant canopy temperature for evaluating its usefulness in detecting water stress in cotton under humid conditions. Soil water and plant canopy temperature data were collected during the 2011 cotton growing season. Results indicated that the soil water sensors were able to measure the soil water status, and the measurements recorded by the systems reflected general trends of soil water change during the growing season. Canopy temperature of non-irrigated plant is 2-4 C higher than that of the irrigated plant during peak time of day. Irrigated plots increased cotton yield by 12% compared with the non-irrigated. System installation and maintenance procedures developed worked well in general. However, some installation and operational issues were found and need to be resolved for field operation and user acceptance.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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