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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #430514

Research Project: Increasing Crop Water Use Efficiency Through SCADA Control of Variable Rate Irrigation Systems Using Plant and Soil Sensor Feedback

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 3090-13000-015-37-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Dec 1, 2015
End Date: Nov 30, 2019

Objectives are: 1) Develop a wireless, multi-band, integrated computer vision and thermal infrared sensor system for detection of plant cover fraction, plant health, and plant water stress levels; 2) Develop corresponding computer algorithms for prescribing water application in response to these biotic and abiotic stresses; 3) Develop robust, advanced computational systems for determining site-specific crop water use (evapotranspiration, ET) based on flexible (as available) and complementary combinations of sensed weather, canopy fraction, plant stress, soil water status and weather; and 4) integrate these sensing and computational systems into the SCADA system with a farmer-friendly graphical user interface, including integration with the Internet (cloud) for remote access and control.

We will develop a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for irrigation management using advanced engineering, soil and biological science, and based on integration of wireless plant, soil water and weather sensing systems with computer and IT systems to produce site-specific irrigation prescriptions that may be manually or automatically applied to variable rate irrigation systems in order to optimize crop production per unit of water and fertilizer used through well regulated deficit irrigation. Included in the approach is development of advanced wireless computer vision sensors for detection of crop health, cover fraction and water stress. This system will: 1) Reduce runoff and deep percolation losses of water, nutrients and agrochemicals from fields; 2) Reduce water use; 3) Reduce energy consumed for pumping; 4) Improve profitability and sustainability of rural economies; 5) Increase production of food, fuel and fiber; and 6) Increase overall water use efficiency (use efficiency of both precipitation and irrigation).