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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Water Management and Systems Research » Research » Research Project #438898

Research Project: Developing Canopy Temperature Based Methodologies to Inform Irrigation Decisions

Location: Water Management and Systems Research

Project Number: 3012-13210-001-008-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 30, 2025

Long-term goals of this cooperative research project between USDA-ARS and Cooperator are: 1) to observe and evaluate the effect of crop water stress on canopy temperature and other remote sensing indicators, 2) use this information to inform irrigation decisions, and 3) develop methodology and algorithms to link Objectives 1 and 2 in irrigation decision support systems.

The purpose of this NFCA is to facilitate close collaboration between USDA-ARS and the UNL. The Cooperator and USDA-ARS scientists will work closely together in field studies, both at the USDA-ARS Limited Irrigation Research Farm (LIRF) and UNL’s West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center (WCREEC) in North Platte, NE. Both institutions have ongoing research experiments that explore irrigated agriculture, with general goals to maintain irrigated agriculture in the face of water shortages. The approach to meet the above objectives is to collaborate in planning and conducting experiments, interpreting data, and publishing and disseminating research. By combining and sharing expertise and resources between the two institutions, the quality and impact of the research outcomes is expected to exceed that which would have been achieved separately. Experiments will be conducted on high-impact and high water use irrigated crops that are prevalent to the semi-arid Great Plains and other regions (e.g. maize). Multiple water regimes (i.e. irrigation treatments) will be applied to crops to evaluate a broad range of water stress. Because canopy temperature has been shown to be closely related with crop water stress (see DeJonge et al., doi 10.1016/j.agwat.2015.03.023), it has been suggested that such measurements could be used on a spatiotemporal basis to inform not only when irrigation is required, but also to quantify the reduction in water use due to stress. This decision support is critical in water limited irrigation management, and is a required component in variable rate irrigation systems, which currently use broad prescription based methods rather than the plant-based methods we suggest. This approach may also include collaboration with additional ARS and university colleagues to accomplish the above objectives (which would be facilitated through amendment or separate agreement, as appropriate).