(NAFB)--USDA researchers are working on the development of soil, water and plant stress sensors and automated irrigation systems designed to irrigate fields only when necessary. The aim is to help farmers make the most of their water supplies - particularly in a region where they depend on the Ogallala Aquifer. The researchers are working on two complementary approaches. In one system - water is applied based on crop water stress levels. The stress level is detected by wireless sensors mounted on the pipelines of above-ground commercial irrigation systems. The sensors determine variable water needs as the irrigation system moves across a field. Sensors in the soil trigger irrigation in the other approach based on soil water content. That technology is designed for urban sites and is being adapted to work in agriculture.
For more detailed information - visit the USDA ARS website at www dot ars dot usda dot gov (www.ars.usda.gov). Click on the link to the Agricultural Research Magazine and look for the article titled “Two Approaches for Optimizing Water Productivity.”