Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Sustainable Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345204

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Water Management Technologies for Humid Regions

Location: Sustainable Water Management Research

Title: Irrigation scheduling using soil moisture sensors

item Sui, Ruixiu

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/6/2017
Publication Date: 12/15/2017
Citation: Sui, R. 2017. Irrigation scheduling using soil moisture sensors. Journal of Agricultural Science. 10(1):1-11.

Interpretive Summary: Crop producers have become increasingly reliant on irrigation to ensure adequate yields and reduce risks of production. There is a need to provide technical tools to producers for appropriate management of irrigation. Scientist at USDA-ARS Crop Production Systems Research Unit in Stoneville, MS developed a sensor-based irrigation scheduling method for irrigation management. Soil moisture sensors were used to monitor soil moisture status in field. Irrigation events were triggered when the soil water content drops to a certain level. This method, including the sensor installation and maintenance, and data process and application has been evaluated for 6 years. Results indicated this method could be a useful tool in irrigation management for water saving in crop production.

Technical Abstract: Soil moisture sensors were evaluated and used for irrigation scheduling in humid region. Soil moisture sensors were installed in soil at depths of 15cm, 30cm, and 61cm belowground. Soil volumetric water content was automatically measured by the sensors in a time interval of an hour during the crop growing season. Soil moisture data were wirelessly transferred onto internet through a wireless sensor network (WSN) so that the data could be remotely accessed online. Soil water content measured at the 3 depths were interpreted using a weighted average method to reflect the status of soil water in plant root zone. A threshold to trigger an irrigation event was determined with sensor-measured soil water content. An antenna mounting device was developed for operation of the WSN. Using the antenna mounting device, the soil moisture measurement was not be interrupted by crop field management practices. The soil moisture sensor-based irrigation scheduling method has been used for irrigation scheduling in a USDA-ARS Research Farm in Stoneville, MS.