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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #439235

Research Project: Optimized Allocation of Limited Amount of Irrigation Water among Simultaneous Annual Crops at Farm Level (ORDILS)

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 3090-13000-016-059-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

1. Develop the optimization algorithm for the ORDILS (Optimized Regulated Deficit Irrigation for Limited volume of irrigation water and Simultaneous crops) methodology and demonstrate its applicability in actual management conditions. 2. Evaluate the effect of the ORDILS methodology on the profitability and physiological response of crops. 3. Evaluate the effect of the ORDILS methodology on the agricultural and economic productivity of water and the water footprint of crops. 4. Analyze the impact of the ORDILS optimization algorithm on the profitability and pressure of bodies of groundwater that are overexploited or at risk of being so, given a scenario of climate change where there is decreasing the water available for irrigation. 5. Develop an online application to make this methodology available to technicians and farmers.

In regions with scarce water resources, as is the case of most of Spain and other Mediterranean countries, a commonly used methodology to regulate irrigation farmers’ water use is for the competent authority to establish a maximum volume, which is controlled through meters installed on farms. Producers of extensive annual crops in these areas must decide which crops to grow and the surface area to devote to each one for the next crop year, depending on the availability of irrigation water and cropping area. This is complicated by the uncertainty of future weather conditions, especially in the current climate change scenario. The second challenge is to distribute, as efficiently as possible, across the season, the available amount of water in order to achieve maximum crop yields, while avoiding at least the most profitable crops suffering water deficit if adverse climate conditions increase the need to irrigate beyond expected levels and the water resources available. To solve such problems, the research team proposes the development of an optimization algorithm called ORDILS (Optimized Regulated Deficit Irrigation for Limited volumes of irrigation water and Simultaneous crops). This algorithm, using an initial reference situation, and depending on the water available, as well as the expected crop yields and profitability according to the amount of irrigation water applied, will be able to adapt irrigation scheduling, and even determine the optimum area to be cultivated until sowing date, with the intention of maximizing the farm’s profitability. To this end, a field experiment with three crops (purple garlic, barley and maize) typical of the experimental area (Albacete), will be managed under non-deficit irrigation conditions (control), under the strategy followed by a typical farmer (who attempts to apply non-deficit irrigation and, if water is short, uses the water destined to the least profitable crops to satisfy the water demands of the most profitable; garlic, in this case), and under the methodology proposed by ORDILS. ARS will provide input regarding the experimental design and approach, data to be collected, and data analyses and interpretation.