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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 #375070

Research Project: Precipitation and Irrigation Management to Optimize Profits from Crop Production

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Irrigation scheduling for agriculture in the United States: The progress made and the path forward

item TAGHVAEIAN, SALEH - Oklahoma State University
item ANDALES, ALLAN - Colorado State University
item ALLEN, NIEL - Utah State University
item KISEKKA, ISAYAH - University Of California, Davis
item O`Shaughnessy, Susan
item PORTER, DANA - Texas A&M Agrilife
item Sui, Ruixiu
item IRMAK, SUAT - University Of Nebraska
item FULTON, ALAN - University Of California
item AGUILAR, JONATHON - Kansas State University

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/7/2020
Publication Date: 10/1/2020
Citation: Taghvaeian, S., Andales, A.A., Allen, N.L., Kisekka, I., O'Shaughnessy, S.A., Porter, D.O., Sui, R., Irmak, S., Fulton, A., Aguilar, J. 2020. Irrigation scheduling for agriculture in the United States: The progress made and the path forward. Transactions of the ASABE. 63(5):1603-1618.

Interpretive Summary: For decades, irrigation scheduling methods have been in existence to help producers in the US apply the correct amount of water to a crop at the appropriate time. Good irrigation management practices can result in crop yields of high quality and quantity, improve the ratio of yields to total water used by a crop, and reduce run-off and nutrient loss due to deep percolation. However, few producers have adopted scientific irrigation scheduling methods. This paper reviews the major scientific irrigation scheduling methods- plant sensing, soil water sensing, and crop modeling by discussing progress made in the past 10 years. It also identifies challenges with adoption of irrigation scheduling methods and forecasts the future direction of irrigation management practices.

Technical Abstract: Irrigation scheduling is the process of determining the appropriate amount and timing of water application to achieve desired crop yield and quality, maximize water conservation, and minimize possible negative effects on the environment such as nutrient leaching below crop root zone. Effective irrigation scheduling has been shown to save water, save energy, and help agricultural producers achieve improved yields and quality. However, scientific irrigation scheduling methods generally have remained limited to mostly research applications with relatively low adoption by irrigators. There are several main approaches to irrigation scheduling, including those based on plant characteristics, soil water status, and/or crop modeling. Each of these approaches has its advantages as well as limitations and sources of uncertainty and variability, depending on their application conditions. This paper summarizes progress made in the United States in each of the main scheduling approaches in the past ten years (since the 2010 Decennial Irrigation Symposium) and existing challenges and opportunities that should be considered moving forward. This paper is intended to guide future research and extension projects in improving adoption of scientific irrigation scheduling approaches.