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Smart Irrigation: Smartphone Technology for Managing Urban and Agricultural Irrigation


Our project goal is to conserve water by improving irrigation practices using real-time and forecast information and engaging stakeholders through Smartphone apps. This project focuses on implementation in Florida, Georgia, and border areas of adjacent states with additional Southeast sites being included in future efforts. <P>Four types of users are targeted: citrus, cotton, and strawberry producers and urban lawn irrigators. With the increasing price of fuel and potential restrictions on irrigation water, these apps will be useful for increased sustainability by providing at-your-fingertips knowledge for improved irrigation (and water conservation) and potential financial savings through lower fuel costs (less pump time). It is anticipated that using the apps for better irrigation will also reduce nutrient leaching, creating an additional benefit. Our approach will use real-time water balance information, such as measurement of rain and estimation of evapotranspiration (ET). <P>This project will be completed through the following objectives: (1) develop, validate, and execute Smartphone apps for citrus, cotton, strawberry, and urban lawn to provide real-time and forecasting information; (2) incorporate stakeholders into the Smartphone app development process through focus group app piloting and continued review; (3) conduct in-service training events for county agents and specialists, conduct stakeholder training events, develop and maintain dedicated web site, and further advertise the tools through web, email, extention publications, local newsletters; and (4) further disseminate the methodology of Smartphone science-based apps to professional audiences through publication and conference presentations and to collegiate audiences through teaching modules designed and incorporated into course programs. <P>Project outputs include four stakeholder-validated models that use real-time and forecasting aspects providing information to improve irrigation; four Smartphone apps that supply stakeholders with real-time and forecasting information that is used for water conservation in irrigation; four You-tube videos on how to use each of the tools; train-the-trainer workshops; stakeholder workshops in Florida and Georgia; water savings by those who use tools; two refereed publications; web presence and numerous extension materials; eXtension materials; Florida Journal of Water Resources publication; and collegiate learning modules.

More information

Non-Technical Summary: <BR>Fresh water supply shortages are increasingly common in the Southeast US. The growing population in this region has been suggested as a key component contributing to this water stress as well as climate variability and change. A 2010 report indicated that by 2050 much of Florida is projected to be at high to extreme risk of water shortage while water shortage in Georgia is projected to range from moderate to extreme (Spencer and Altman, 2010). Irrigation has been shown to be a substantial user of fresh water supplies in the Southeast - both for agriculture and urban applications. Thus, irrigation provides one source of potential water savings if irrigation practices can be improved. With the growing price of fuel and potential restrictions on irrigation water, these apps will also be useful for increased sustainability by providing at-your-fingertips knowledge for improved irrigation (and water conservation) and potential financial savings through lower fuel costs (less pump time). We will develop models that require minimum input using real-time weather data to improve irrigation practices in citrus, cotton, strawberry, and urban lawn environments. These simple models will be converted into Smartphone apps to be used quickly and efficiently by stakeholders. The apps will include both real-time and forecasting components. Stakeholders will test the apps and further modifications will be made as needed to improve their performance before public release. We will also conduct train-the-trainer and train-the-stakeholder workshops to further disseminate these products. Our initial goal is to reach Florida and Georgia irrigators with future efforts expanding further into the Southeast region. All efforts will be coordinated through the Southeast Climate Consortium and linked with AgroClimate and the Florida Automated Weather Network. <P> Approach: <BR> Four models will be developed for use in handheld apps using real-time and forecasting aspects. These models will be developed with the intent that input requirements and outputs generated are appropriate for use on a Smartphone (i.e., Blackberry, Droid, and iPhone). The four specific models will be citrus, cotton, strawberry, and urban lawn. The apps developed for each model will allow users to input specific information to be used in generating irrigation practices to meet crop water needs. Models will include plant growth stage and seasonal variations based on real-time weather input (e.g., calculation of growing degree days). The real-time aspect will use a simplified water balance that considers the field capacity, rooting depth, evapotranspiration (ET), rainfall, minimum allowable depletion, and irrigation system characteristics. ET will be estimated using appropriate crop coefficients and ET estimation techniques that require readily available weather parameters. All apps will also include a forecasting aspect based on National Weather Service forecasts. Four small focus groups (5 to 10 people) will be selected to pilot the technology and validate the models used. As the Smartphone apps are evaluated, we will collect feedback for integration into the final apps. We will extend knowledge on irrigation scheduling, climatic variables which affect precipitation (ENSO, etc.), and the new irrigation scheduling apps to the agricultural and urban communities through local, regional, and national workshops. Local workshops will be divided into two phases: train-the-trainer and train- the-stakeholders. Regional and national workshops will focus on training stakeholders. Extension products will be delivered through video, oral, and written media - including eXtension. All products will be incorporated into the Southeast Climate Consortium efforts and have a web presence on AgroClimate and Florida Automated Weather Network. University level educational efforts will be integrated with successful educational programs operated by the University of Georgia's multidisciplinary degree called Agriscience & Environmental Systems (AES). We will create teaching modules that will be incorporated into key courses of the AES program. These modules will encapsulate the information that will be delivered during the workshops and will be formatted for a classroom/lab setting. Professional conferences and publications will also be used to convey project results and outcomes.

Migliaccio, Kati
University of Florida
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