Project Summaries

12-173GA  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes

A HOLISTIC SOLUTION TO USING SOIL MOISTURE DATA FOR SCHEDULING IRRIGATION

George Vellidis and Calvin Perry, Georgia Cotton Commission

The goal of the project is to develop an easy-to-use Web-Based Scheduling Tool which will allow cotton producers to convert soil moisture data into irrigation recommendations. This project has several phases and is greatly leveraged by funding from other competitive grant sources. The first phase of the project was to deploy the UGA Smart Sensor Array (UGA SSA) in several producer fields in southern Georgia. Ten fields were selected that would be in cotton for two of the next three years (including the 2012 growing season). Eight of the fields were either in cotton or peanuts this year – the other two fields were in corn. The eight fields were each instrumented with 10 nodes of the UGA SSA. Each UGA SSA node contains a probe of three Watermark soil moisture sensors installed at depths of 8, 16, and 24 inch depths. The UGA SSA was modified to include a cellular modem and each field base station now transmits soil moisture data hourly to a UGA FTP server. The UGA SSA performed well during the 2012.

We selected the Irrigator Pro suite of models as our irrigation scheduling tool. Irrigator Pro is a decision support system developed by the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Peanut Research Lab (NPRL) for irrigation scheduling in peanuts, cotton, and corn. Irrigator Pro irrigation scheduling recommendations are made to maintain soil water in the optimum ranges. The most recent release of Irrigator Pro uses daily soil water potential (soil water tension) data in units of kPa. Because the UGA SSA also measures soil water tension, it is ideally suited to provide data that drive Irrigator Pro. The NPRL is modifying the input and output functions of the software so that it would be compatible with the project's web-based irrigation scheduling tool. That conversion work is in progress.

Also in process is the development of a web-based irrigation scheduling tool called the Flint Irrigation Scheduling Tool (FIST) which will allow producers to remotely check soil moisture of fields but will also provide irrigation scheduling recommendations. By the end of the project, data from the UGA SSA will be used to populate FIST and drive the Irrigator Pro scheduling tool. In 2013 and possibly 2014 (if funding is available), the fields will be used to test and validate the Web-Based Scheduling Tool. With FIST, farmers will be able to check soil moisture status from any device with access to the internet (mobile phone, iPod, office or home computer, internet café). If multiple fields are equipped with the UGA SSA, farmers will be able to check soil moisture status of all fields form one portal. FIST will also provide irrigation scheduling recommendations for conventional irrigation systems as well as precision irrigation systems using Irrigator Pro. For precision irrigation systems, FIST will provide MZ-based recommendations. Producers could then make a fully-informed decision about initiating irrigation. FIST will be operational for the 2013 growing season.

 

Project Year: 2012
 

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