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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331824

Title: Advanced tools for irrigation scheduling

item O`Shaughnessy, Susan
item Sui, Ruixiu

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/29/2016
Publication Date: 3/15/2018
Citation: O'Shaughnessy, S.A., Sui, R. 2018. Chapter 11 - Advanced tools for irrigation scheduling. In: Chen, G., editor. Advances in Agricultural Machinery and Technologies. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 263-288.

Interpretive Summary: One of the main problems that farmers face in production agriculture is limited quality water supplies. Therefore, timing irrigations appropriately and applying the correct amount of water could help ease this problem. This chapter discusses newly developed soil water and plant sensors that can help farmers decide when and how much water to apply. Continued work is required to refine decision support tools that support newly developed sensors and software programs that control irrigation systems. In addition, the chapter reports on software programs available on the web, or for tablets or smartphones that provide real-time local weather data and processed information that can help a farmer schedule irrigations. These types of advanced irrigation tools are important as they help ensure maximum crop yield and quality as well as maximum crop water use efficiency where water for irrigation is limited.

Technical Abstract: Irrigated agriculture is needed to meet demands for agricultural products, but farmers are challenged with limited quality water supplies, environmental and regulatory policies climate variability, and competition for water from other sectors. Scientific irrigation scheduling could help allay these challenges. This chapter describes the advanced irrigation scheduling tools available today and those currently in development for irrigation management. These tools build on and support fundamental scientific irrigation scheduling methods. The tools include more robust soil water sensors, non-invasive plant sensors, environmental sensors, agrometeorological stations and reliable wireless sensor network systems. In addition to sensors and sensor network systems, software packages adapted to variable rate irrigation systems, web-based programs and electronic applications (for tablets and smartphones) are available for irrigation scheduling. These programs use local data for input and typically provide irrigation scheduling guidance based on a water-balance method. Web-based and mobile applications provide farmers and crop consultants with expedient accessibility to information. Future work is required to refine decision support tools for irrigation scheduling and ensure maximum crop yield and quality as well as maximum crop WUE where water for irrigation is limited.