Submitted to: Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/16/2007
Publication Date: 10/1/2007
Citation: Kim, Y., Evans, R.G., Iversen, W.M. 2007. Wireless Site-specific Irrigation - The Future of Intelligent Agriculture. Resource Magazine. October, Special Issue, 14:(7):2-3.
Interpretive Summary: Water is a major factor for plant growth. Traditional uniform water applications ignore field variations that cause varying crop yield and quality across most fields. Excessive application leads to drainage and disease problems, whereas under application reduces yields. The development of an efficient water management system, therefore, is a major concern around the globe to improve water-use efficiency and support a sustainable environment. The challenge is to develop a system that accurately and inexpensively senses field variability and controls variable-rate irrigation according to the spatial variability. To meet the challenge, researchers at the USDA-ARS research laboratory in Sidney, Montana developed a wireless in-field sensor-based irrigation system supporting site-specific irrigation management using low cost wireless radios. Researchers developed an automated closed-loop irrigation system that consisted of in-field sensor stations distributed across the field, an irrigation control station, and a base station.
Technical Abstract: A wireless site-specific irrigation system was developed with a distributed wireless sensor network. The system allows growers to remotely access field conditions and an irrigation operation at the home or office via wireless radio communication, directing individual sprinklers on how much water to apply and where. The in-field sensor stations monitor the field conditions of soil moisture, soil temperature, and air temperature, whereas a nearby weather station monitors micrometeorological information on the field, i.e., air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed, wind direction, and solar radiation. All in-field sensory data are wirelessly transmitted to the base station. The base station processes the in-field sensory data through a user-friendly decision making program and sends control commands to the irrigation control station. The irrigation control station updates and sends the location of the irrigation machine from a differential GPS to the base station for real-time monitoring and control. Based on sprinkler head GPS locations, the base station feeds control signals back to the irrigation control station to site-specifically operate each individual sprinkler group to apply a specified depth of water.