Project Summaries

12-338  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes

EVALUATING THE POTENTIAL OF USING SOIL MOISTURE WIRELESS SENSORS TO CHARACTERIZE ENVIRONMENTS IN WHICH VARIETY TRIALS ARE BEING CONDUCTED AND TO INCREASE TOOLS TO IDENTIFY DROUGHT TOLERANT CULTIVARS

Derrick M. Oosterhuis, and Tyson Raper, University of Arkansas; Pedro Andrade-Sanchez, University of Arizona; Philip Bauer, USDA; Glen Ritchie, Texas Tech University, Diane Rowland, University of Florida, and John Snider, University of Georgia

To meet the challenge of limited water resources, this study has the objective of accelerating the development of wireless soil moisture sensor systems and other advanced irrigation scheduling technologies to allow producers to optimize yield without over application of water. A second objective is to increase tools available to rapidly screen for drought tolerant cotton varieties. In addition, this study will shed light on possible reasons for variation in the variety trials associated with soil water availability.

A regional initiative was developed by multiple investigators from sites throughout the cotton belt in an effort to advance crop drought-stress monitoring technologies and further increase cotton's sustainability through the selection of drought resistant varieties. Although the large number of dryland variety trials conducted each year allow producers to examine the yield response of many varieties in similar growing conditions to their own, local trials may not fully express all varietal characteristics, specifically those of drought stress. The ability to characterize the drought stress of these trials would allow for a much larger extrapolation of varietal yield response and water use efficiency. The main objective of this initiative was to develop a crop/soil sensor-based index which can accurately characterize site drought-stress. Trials at each site tested the response of drought-stress monitoring sensors to differences in variety and replication. Monitored data included standard meteorological parameters at the site scale and either canopy temperature, soil moisture, or both at the plot scale. Although varieties and irrigation regimes varied slightly by site, one standard variety was planted at each location. Soil moisture data was collected by PureSense Inc. (Fresno, CA) and soil moisture response variables included a soil water stress index (a function of total available water (TAW) adjusted for rooting depth and crop susceptibility) and water gained/lost. Canopy temperature data was collected and analyzed by Smartfield Inc. (Lubbock, TX). Strongest relationships between the accumulated available H2O drought stress index units and seedcotton yield were found when the upper and lower limits of TAW were determined from in-season sensor readings. Preliminary results suggest a limited number of sensors under a standard variety could be used to characterize site drought stress and increase the utility of dryland variety trials. Still, further research is needed to more accurately define the response of the drought stress index to variety and spatial variability and to strengthen an included crop susceptibility factor.

 

Project Year: 2012
 

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