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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

Project Number: 6066-13000-004-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 7, 2012
End Date: Feb 6, 2017

The goal of this research will be to design improved irrigation application technologies and scheduling techniques using automated technology to detect crop water status and provide site-specific application guidelines. To achieve this goal, the following objectives will be undertaken: Objective 1: Develop novel sensing technologies to determine crop water status and improve irrigation scheduling. Objective 2: Quantify the potential for and conditions under which site-specific irrigation and nutrient applications can address spatially varying field conditions and crop requirements. Objective 3: Develop cropping systems, conservation management practices and crop rotations with improved water management and enhanced economic and environmental sustainability.

To complete Objective 1, wireless sensor networks will be deployed and evaluated to measure soil water status for irrigation scheduling. Soil water sensors will be calibrated for predominant soils in Mississippi Delta region. A 3D plant morphometer will be developed to allow real-time, in-situ, non-destructive measurement of the morphological characteristics of bush-type plants. Field evaluation of the morphometer will be conducted and data collected will be analyzed to identify relationships between plant morphological characteristics and evaporative demand and soil moisture availability. Crop water use will be measured using electronic load cell-based weighing lysimeters. The measurements will be used to develop crop coefficient functions for corn and soybean. Low-cost wireless monitoring and control systems will be developed for measuring soil moisture and agronomic parameters. A University of Georgia (UGA) Evaporation-based Accumulator for Sprinkler-enhanced Yield (EASY) Pan will be set up in fields along with soil water sensors. The sensors and pan water levels will be read daily and composite soil water potentials will be calculated for each station. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate water productivity of the switchgrass as an energy crop. To complete Objective 2, a standard tractor 3-point quick-hitch will be modified to allow real-time control of the vertical movement of the hitch. Performance of the modified real time kinematic (RTK) global positioning system (GPS) - controlled hitch in improving surface-irrigation application will be field tested. An improved plant health sensing system equipped with multispectral and ultrasonic sensors will be designed and fabricated for diagnosing plant health conditions. Experiments will be conducted in a cotton field with water and nitrogen (N) treatments. Relationships among canopy spectral reflectance, plant height, soil moisture, leaf N, yield, and fiber quality will be examined for site-specific water and nutrient management. To complete Objective 3, improved irrigation scheduling and application technologies and water management tools will be developed and delivered to producers to improve water use and crop yield and quality. The research will develop production systems and identify management practices that improve soil quality and increase profitability by incorporating conservation production practices, alternative crops and crop rotations. Profitability of management practices and production systems will be tested with economic analysis. Fundamental principles of successful production systems will be delineated, and examined for impacts on risks, competitiveness and environmental impacts.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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