Irrigation and Drainage
394614 - Evaluating the Performance of Soil Moisture Sensor for Irrigation Management
Wednesday, June 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Skyway Room
Sumon Datta, , – Oklahoma State University
As population grows in the United States and the world, irrigated agriculture faces the great challenge of increasing production using available (and in many cases declining) water resources. Other factors such as increased competition from industrial and urban sectors and a changing climate exacerbate existing challenges. One approach that can assist with conserving agricultural water resources is to utilize sensor-based technologies for irrigation management. Adoption of these technologies can also reduce many associated environmental issues, such as the salinization of irrigated lands and pollution of downstream water bodies. Despite sensor-based technologies having a long history with their potential being proven in many research studies, only a small fraction of producers use them in their decision making. The 2013 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey conducted by the USDA-NASS reported that only 11% of irrigated farms in U.S. used soil and/or plant sensors for deciding when to irrigate, suggesting that the technology has not been successfully transferred. To foster the use of sensor technologies a project was conducted with a focus on commercially available soil moisture sensors. Performance of four widely used sensors was evaluated at two fields in central and southwestern Oklahoma with different soil textures, soil salinities, irrigation systems, and crops. Undisturbed soil samples were collected at each field to determine actual soil moisture, as well as the hydraulic properties of different types of soil. The readings of sensors were analyzed in conjunction with irrigation application depths and management practices to investigate sensor response and accuracy. The effectiveness of irrigation management was also studied using sensor data.