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ARSPivot, A Sensor-Based Decision Support Software for Variable-Rate Irrigation Center Pivot Systems: Part A. Development

Manuel A. Andrade, Susan A. O’Shaughnessy, Steven R. Evett
Transactions of the ASABE v.63 no.5 pp. 1521-1533
Agricultural Research Service, center pivot irrigation, computer software, data collection, decision support systems, geographic information systems, georeferencing, irrigation water, precision agriculture, soil water, user interface, weather, Texas
HighlightsThe ARSPivot software seamlessly integrates site-specific irrigation scheduling methods with weather, plant, and soil water sensing systems in the operation of variable-rate irrigation (VRI) center pivot systems.ARSPivot embodies an Irrigation Scheduling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ISSCADA) system that incorporates site-specific irrigation scheduling methods and automates the collection and processing of data obtained from sensing systems supporting them.ARSPivot incorporates a friendly graphical user interface (GUI) that assists in the process of setting up a computerized representation of a coupled ISSCADA VRI center pivot system and simplifies the review of irrigation prescriptions automatically generated based on sensor feedback.ARSPivot’s GUI includes a geographic information system (GIS) that relates sensed data and imported GIS data to specific field control zones.Abstract. The commercial availability of variable-rate irrigation (VRI) systems gives farmers access to unprecedented control of the irrigation water applied to their fields. To take full advantage of these systems, their operations must integrate site-specific irrigation scheduling methods that in turn should be supported by a network of sensing systems. An Irrigation Scheduling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ISSCADA) system patented by scientists with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at Bushland, Texas, incorporates site-specific irrigation scheduling methods informed by weather, plant, and soil water sensing systems. This article introduces a software package, ARSPivot, developed to integrate the ISSCADA system into the operation of VRI center pivot systems. ARSPivot assists the operation and integration of a complex network of sensing systems, irrigation scheduling methods, and irrigation machinery to achieve this end. ARSPivot consists of two independent programs interacting through a client-server architecture. The client program is focused on automatically collecting and processing georeferenced data from sensing systems and communicating with a center pivot control panel, while the server program is focused on communicating with users through a friendly graphical user interface (GUI) involving a geographic information system (GIS). The GUI allows users to visualize and modify site-specific prescription maps automatically generated based on sensor-based irrigation scheduling methods, and to control and monitor the application of irrigation amounts specified in these recommended prescription maps using center pivots equipped for VRI zone control or VRI speed control. This article discusses the principles and design considerations followed in the development of ARSPivot and presents tools implemented in the software for the virtual design and physical operation of a coupled ISSCADA VRI center pivot system. This article also illustrates how the ISSCADA system and ARSPivot constitute a comprehensive sensor-based decision support system (DSS) for VRI management that is accessible to users without in-depth knowledge of sensing systems or irrigation scheduling methods. Keywords: Center pivot irrigation, Decision support system, Precision agriculture, Sensors, Site-specific irrigation scheduling, Software, Variable rate irrigation.n