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Wireless Sensor Network Effectively Controls Center Pivot Irrigation of Sorghum

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(6): 853-864. (doi: 10.13031/aea.29.9921) @2013
Authors:   Susan A. O’Shaughnessy, Steven R. Evett, Paul D. Colaizzi, Terry A. Howell
Keywords:   Irrigation scheduling, Crop water stress index, Center pivot, sorghum, Variable rate irrigation, Wireless.
<italic>Abstract. </italic>

Automatic irrigation scheduling has been demonstrated using wired sensors and sensor network systems with subsurface drip and moving irrigation systems. However, there are limited studies that report on crop yield and water use efficiency resulting from the use of wireless networks to automatically schedule and control irrigations. In this 2011 study, a multinode wireless sensor network (WSN) system was mounted onto a six-span center pivot equipped with a commercial variable rate irrigation (VRI) system. Data from the WSN was used to calculate an integrated crop water stress index (iCWSI) threshold for automatic irrigation scheduling of grain sorghum. Crop response to the automatic method was compared with manual irrigation scheduling using weekly direct soil water measurements. The WSN system was operational throughout 98% of the growing season, and the delivery rates for data packets from the different nodes ranged between 90% and 98%. Dry grain yields and WUE in the automatic and manual treatment plots were not significantly different from each other at any of the irrigation levels. Crop water use and WUE were highest in the I80% irrigation treatment level. Average seasonal integrated crop water stress indices were negatively correlated to irrigation treatment amounts in both the manual and automatic plots and correlated well to crop water use. These results demonstrate that it is feasible to use WSN systems for irrigation management on a field-scale level.

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