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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Water Management Technologies for the Mid-South

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Project Number: 6402-13000-004-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 07, 2012
End Date: Feb 06, 2017

Objective 1. Develop novel sensing technologies to determine crop water status and improve irrigation scheduling. Sub-objective 1.1. Implement wireless sensing systems to measure soil water content and temperature; Sub-objective 1.2. Develop a 3D plant morphometer to monitor plant morphological responses to water stress; Sub-objective 1.3. Measure water use and develop crop coefficient functions for corn and soybean for use in irrigation scheduling models; Sub-objective 1.4. Develop low-cost wireless monitoring systems for measuring soil moisture and agronomic parameters using open-source components; Sub-objective 1.5. Develop and adapt technologies for evaporation-based instruments that can be readily used by farm managers to assist in scheduling irrigation; and Sub-objective 1.6. Evaluate switchgrass water productivity in the Mid-South. Objective 2. Quantify the potential for and conditions under which site-specific irrigation and nutrient applications can address spatially varying field conditions and crop requirements. Sub-objective 2.1. Develop a method to improve surface-irrigation applications by reducing spatially varying field conditions using site-specific information; and Sub-objective 2.2. Implement a plant health sensing system and remote sensing technology for site-specific nutrient application.

To complete Objective 1, wireless sensor networks will be deployed and evaluated to measure soil water status for irrigation scheduling. Soil water sensors will be calibrated for predominant soils in Mississippi Delta region. A 3D plant morphometer will be developed to allow real-time, in-situ, non-destructive measurement of the morphological characteristics of bush-type plants. Field evaluation of the morphometer will be conducted and data collected will be analyzed to identify relationships between plant morphological characteristics and evaporative demand and soil moisture availability. Crop water use will be measured using electronic load cell-based weighing lysimeters. The measurements will be used to develop crop coefficient functions for corn and soybean. Low-cost wireless monitoring and control systems will be developed for measuring soil moisture and agronomic parameters. A University of Georgia (UGA) Evaporation-based Accumulator for Sprinkler-enhanced Yield (EASY) Pan will be set up in fields along with soil water sensors. The sensors and pan water levels will be read daily and composite soil water potentials will be calculated for each station. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate water productivity of the switchgrass as an energy crop. To complete Objective 2, a standard tractor 3-point quick-hitch will be modified to allow real-time control of the vertical movement of the hitch. Performance of the modified real time kinematic (RTK) global positioning system (GPS) - controlled hitch in improving surface-irrigation application will be field tested. An improved plant health sensing system equipped with multispectral and ultrasonic sensors will be designed and fabricated for diagnosing plant health conditions. Experiments will be conducted in a cotton field with water and nitrogen (N) treatments. Relationships among canopy spectral reflectance, plant height, soil moisture, leaf N, yield, and fiber quality will be examined for site-specific water and nutrient management.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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