Remotely-Sensed Irrigation Control Expert System (RICES)
Center pivot irrigation systems are widespread across the Nation's critically water short regions. A common bias for irrigators is to give crops more water than is actually needed in order to cover uncertainties and ensure enough water is present. This practice leads to profound waste of water and energy. Providing just what the crop needs is the means to achieve profound conservation that can be scaled to cover vast regions. Remote sensing methods that accurately estimate crop water are being applied by HydroBio ARS in a program that will deliver irrigation prescriptions across farmed regions. Called Remotely-sensed Irrigation Control Expert System, (RICES) in our original SBIR application, this technology will heretofore be referred to as Targeted Irrigation Management (TIM). TIM uses methods that estimate crop water consumption based using reflectance bands in Earth observation satellite imagery that are combined with regional weather data. TIM is being formulated as an Internet-based service for automated irrigation prescription to determine the irrigation necessary to achieve a targeted yield. TIM will also provide archived data from past growing seasons through easily interpreted graphic interfaces so that growers and their agronomists can plan irrigation to enhance production while conserving resources. For designing and testing TIM HydroBio has teamed with the USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory (CPRL) located in Bushland, TX, through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. The SBIR grant supports testing of two TIM aspects necessary for commercialization: (1) Remotely-sensed Dual Coefficient (RDC) method for estimation of crop water use (ETa); and (2) use of satellite data to derive a plant vigor index as a surrogate for crop yield. Demonstration of the feasibility for these key calculations will enable SBIR Phases II and III to proceed with certainty. Three irrigation districts in very different climates are participating in the TIM program. The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District in Dumas, Texas covers the upper Texas Panhandle where water is being mined almost exclusively for center pivot irrigation. The Rio Grande Water Conservation District in the San Luis Valley, Colorado is working to reduce center pivot irrigation demand and reverse a regional trend of falling water tables that adversely affects river discharge necessary to meet interstate compact requirements. The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, covering a large swath across southern Nebraska, represents comparatively wet conditions for comparison to the other two critically water short Districts. The three districts were chosen to provide a broad range of farming environments for consideration in the testing and design of TIM. Through the use of remote sensing, automation and Internet connectivity, TIM promises to provide center pivot irrigation prescription services efficiently and economically over regions of many thousands of square miles. Currently, there is no comparable commercial system in existence. The overall savings in water, energy and fertilizer through the use of TIM promises to be immense.
Small Business Information at Submission:
1220 CERRO GORDO RD Santa Fe, NM 87501-6214
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