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Theory and Development of a VRI Decision Support System: The USDA-ARS ISSCADA Approach

Steven R. Evett, Susan A. O’Shaughnessy, Manuel A. Andrade, Paul D. Colaizzi, Robert C. Schwartz, Harry S. Schomberg, Kenneth C. Stone, Earl D. Vories, Ruixiu Sui
Transactions of the ASABE v.63 no.5 pp. 1507-1519
Agricultural Research Service, automation, biotic stress, center pivot irrigation, cooperative research, data collection, decision support systems, equipment, nutrient use efficiency, product development, profitability, soil water
HighlightsMulti-faceted research efforts converged to an automated irrigation decision support system (DSS).Low-cost, solar-powered, wireless plant abiotic and biotic stress sensors were developed to aid the DSS.Low-cost, accurate TDR soil water sensors and a wireless node and gateway system were developed for the DSS.Sensor systems and research-based algorithms were integrated into an automated irrigation DSS and control system.Abstract. Variable-rate irrigation (VRI) is now possible with every new center pivot irrigation system sold, either using sector (speed) control or both sector and zone (radial along the pipeline) control. However, decision support systems able to generate a prescription for spatially varying irrigation based on crop water need have lagged far behind VRI equipment. Irrigation based on crop water need has been shown to increase both crop water productivity and nutrient use efficiency, meaning that an effective VRI decision support system (DSS) could improve profitability while conserving resources. In this article, we report separately on a VRI DSS using sensor-based plant and soil water feedback as implemented in four U.S. states. This article describes the genesis and development of the Irrigation Scheduling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ISSCADA) system, of the integral plant and soil sensors, and of its wireless sensor network subsystems, as well as the role of multi-location research efforts and cooperative research and development agreements in the development of the needed plant and soil sensors and the ISSCADA and wireless sensor network systems. Keywords: Crop water productivity, Decision support system, Product development, Sensors, Variable-rate irrigation, VRI.