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Precision Canopy and Water Management of Specialty Crops through Sensor-Based Decision Making

Investigators
Upadhyaya, Shrinivasa
Institutions
University of California - Davis
Start date
2010
End date
2013
Objective
The long-term goal of this project is to develop and deploy farm-based, reconfigurable, sensors and/or sensor suites that can be retrofitted to a mobile platform and associated decision support tools to assist growers in making better management decisions to improve crop quality and increase production efficiency and farm profitability, while reducing their environmental footprint.

The specific objectives of this project are to (i) Measure canopy architecture and PAR absorption; (ii) Detect soil and plant water status; (iii) Develop a Universal Navigation Computer (UNC); (iv) Develop a visualization and decision support system; (v) Develop a variable rate water application system; (vi) Conduct economic analysis; (vii) Evaluate social implications.

The development and refinement of a PAR measurement system (obj#1), sensor suite for plant water status (obj#2), autonomous vehicle (obj#3), and wireless network for irrigation management (obj#5) will occur during year 1 of the study. These devices/systems will be field tested during year 2 of the study. Extensive data collection will also occur during the second year. The decision support system (DSS) will be developed during the first year (obj#4). DSS will be implemented during the second year. During year 1 growers will be identified for socio-economic analysis (Obj #6 and 7). Some preliminary data collection will occur. During the second year majority of the data would be collected and analyzed. Data collection and analysis will continue into year 3 of the project.

Outreach activities will start with the second year of the project. Webinars detailing the progress of the project will be developed during year 2. Main emphasis during year 3 will be presentations and demonstrations during field days, and development of instructional videos that detail most promising technologies developed for grower audience.

Four states in the western region - Arizona (pecans), California (almonds, grapes, and walnuts), Oregon (hazelnuts), and Washington (apples and grapes) - will participate in this project.

The expected outputs of this project are - (i) field verified sensors mounted on mobile platforms for measuring canopy architecture and plant water status, (ii) a decision support system to implement canopy management and irrigation management based on sensor data, (iii) development of a technology to apply water to individual or block of trees based on soil and plant water status, and (vi) determination of socio-economic implications of the developed technologies.

More information
Non-Technical Summary: Through a SCARI funded planning grant that included an initial meeting in Sunnyvale, CA, a seminar series at UC Davis, and a final workshop in Phoenix, AZ, we have identified that lack of good information on spatio-temporal variability in specialty crops and associated decision support system to implement appropriate management strategies are of particular importance to the stakeholders. Specially, canopy management and irrigation management of orchard and vineyard crops were identified as the most critical needs of the industry. To address these needs we have assembled a team of trans-disciplinary, multi-state researchers, industry leaders, and cross-commodity groups and developed this project. It addresses three legislatively mandated areas - (i) efforts to improve production efficiency, productivity, and profitability over the long term, (ii) new innovations and technology, and (iii) potential food safety hazards. This project uses proximal sensors mounted on a mobile platform to provide the information desired by stakeholders. These include information on canopy architecture and light interception using Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) sensors (- enhance yield and/or quality by proper canopy management), plant-soil water status using a sensor suite consisting of a thermal IR gun, ambient temperature, humidity and wind speed sensors (- improve water use efficiency). Moreover, this project aims to develop a data visualization software and a decision support system to assist with management decisions. Variable rate water application using a wireless network to address spatio-temporal variability in plant-soil moisture status is also being addressed (- enhance yield, improve quality and/or conserve water). Finally, this proposal addresses the socio-economic implications of proposed senor technology. Four states in the western region - Arizona (pecans), California (almonds, grapes, and walnuts), Oregon (hazelnuts), and Washington (tree-fruits and grapes) - will participate in this project. The expected outcomes of this project are - (i) field verified sensors mounted on mobile platforms for measuring canopy architecture and plant water status, (ii) a decision support system to implement canopy management and irrigation management based on sensor data, (iii) development of a technology to apply water to individual or block of trees based on soil and plant water status, and (vi) determination of socio-economic implications of the developed technologies. Outreach has been integrated into the project plan and each state will implement various activities (i.e., webinars, presentations at commodity group annual meetings, demonstrations at field days, etc.) starting with the second year of the project. An advisory board has been setup to ensure that stakeholders continue to play a key role during the course of the project.

Approach: Objective #1: The UCD researchers will further develop and test the PAR measurement system during the first year and the system will be used at all four partner Universities to obtain field data in subsequent years. The light interception data from a given season will be combined with next spring weather information to predict the potential yield in the next season. Effect of pruning on light interception and yield will be investigated. Moreover, effect of canopy management on orchard floor temperature will be evaluated to determine the potential for microbial contamination of nuts. Objective #2: Preliminary results have shown that the sensor suite that consists of an IR thermal sensor, a PAR sensor, and atmospheric temperature, humidity, and wind speed sensors can be used to detect plant water status. We plan to further develop the sensor suite so that the accuracy and reliability of the sensing system can be enhanced. The sensor suite will be retrofitted on to the mobile platform and field tested to develop plant water status prediction models or indices for use in irrigation management. Objective #3: A Universal Navigation Computer (UNC) that can be retrofitted onto any mobile platform and acquire accurate position data using sensor fusion technique will be developed and provided to the university researchers by the second year of the study by Trimble Navigation Inc for field data collection. Objective #4: A user-friendly data-based decision support tool will be developed. It will include an automated risk analysis and management tool to predict the impacts of growers' decisions. It will also provide on demand, cell phone and web based information delivery, decision and remote-control tools. Objective #5: During year 1 of the project, we expect to further develop and complete the implementation of solar-powered, wireless network technology for site-specific application of water. During years 2 and 3, replicated field experiments will be conducted to determine crop response to irrigation based on plant water status determined by the sensor suite. Objective #6: We will use the AgProfitTM software to assess the economic impact of adopting the proposed canopy and water management technologies. Moreover, we will develop a case farm for each of three farm sizes - small, medium and large - and their costs of production as well as the financial information to construct balance sheets and use this information to determine the feasibility of adopting the proposed technologies by farm size. Objective#7: The growers will be asked to complete an initial on-line survey to gain a general understanding of information needs and how sensors may address those needs. This data will be analyzed, summarized and provided to researchers and grower associations involved with this project. They will be asked to identify how their work addresses the identified priorities and needs. Outreach: As stated in the goals and objectives section, all participating institutions have included outreach activities (i.e., webinars, presentations at commodity group annual meetings, demonstrations at field days, etc.) as an integral part of this project.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
CA-D-BAE-2082-OG
Accession number
222356
Categories
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Policy and Planning
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Commodities
Produce
Nuts, Seeds